Politician accuses Swiss canton of making money from refugees

Politician accuses Swiss canton of making money from refugees

Cantonal councilor in Lucerne says canton pays out less money to refugees than it receives from federal government

By Timur Kirez

GENEVA (AA) – The cantonal councilor of Lucerne in central Switzerland on Wednesday accused the canton of making profit at the expense of refugees.

According to Urban Frye, the federal government pays lump-sum contributions of 550 Swiss francs ($600) to the cantons for each asylum-seeking person assigned to them. But not all of it reaches the asylum seekers, he said.

"The canton pays out less money than it receives from the federal government and makes a profit of up to about 200 francs a month on each person who has fled. The canton should pass on the money," Frye told news portal 20min.ch.

In doing so, the canton is violating both federal and constitutional law and human rights, the Green Party politician added. Asylum seekers in the Lucerne canton want to have the asylum social assistance reviewed.

Thirty-nine people submitted an application to the cantonal court on Monday, through which now a review of the contributions should take place. Frye takes over the costs and the representation of the refugees to the public.

The Lucerne government council had recently adjusted the rates of social assistance to inflation. As a result, asylum seekers and people in need of protection in collective housing receive 11.50 Swiss francs ($12.56) a day.

Previously, it was 11.20 Swiss francs ($12.23) per day. In individual housing, a person receives 14.15 Swiss francs ($15.45). Previously, it was 13.80 Swiss francs ($15.07).

"The increase now makes it possible for us to have the ordinance reviewed by the cantonal court," Frye continued.

He said it had not been possible to persuade the government council "to raise the asylum assistance to a humane level, which unfortunately now leaves only legal recourse."

The politician added that the complaint would be taken all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

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