At the House of Education and Integration in Matran, refugees learn important skills that help them to integrate

Justice and dignity for migrants

Caritas Switzerland represented 9'565 asylum seekers in federal asylum centres in 2023. 1'905 of them were minors.

Migration movements to Switzerland in 2023 were complex and challenged the system as well as the work of Caritas Switzerland, which campaigned tirelessly for the rights of migrants and their integration in Switzerland.

Caritas Switzerland manages the House of Education and Integration (MFI) in Matran on behalf of the canton of Fribourg. It offers recognised refugees accommodation and supports them with their integration for six months. Sabrina Curty, manager of the MFI, explains: «The house is offers people a home where they can find stability and security in an atmosphere of mutual listening and respect.» The MFI celebrated its fifth anniversary in March 2023.

Sabrina Curty
«A home for people that offers them stability and security.»Sabrina CurtyManager of the House of Education and Integration (MFI)

In the past year, the MFI accepted 153 people. They included families¸ single women and men and unaccompanied minors from Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Eritrea or Ukraine.

During a stay, a special class prepares the children for school, and the adults are assisted with social and professional matters. There is also regular interaction with the local population. The primary goal is to enable the refugees to lead an independent life. Advisers from Caritas help them to find jobs, internships or apprenticeships. Thus, in the canton of Fribourg, 288 employment contracts were concluded in 2023, 46 people started an apprenticeship and 251 benefitted from coaching measures.

Migrants have rights that must be defended

Defending the rights of people with a migration background is, alongside integration, another central aspect of Caritas Switzerland’s work. The legal advice centres in Western Switzerland and Central Switzerland support people with regard to asylum and immigration law issues, for example extended asylum procedures, family reunifications, the recognition of statelessness and other matters. Following the latest change in practice by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) when dealing with women and girls from Afghanistan, the legal advice centres are helping them to obtain refugee status.

Since 2019, Caritas Switzerland has also provided free legal advice and representation on behalf of the SEM for asylum seekers at the federal asylum centres (FAC) of the two asylum regions Western Switzerland and Ticino/Central Switzerland (with SOS Ticino). 2023 was a busy year in this regard.

9565

asylum-seekers

in federal asylum centres were represented, of whom1'905 were minors

(2023)

183

cases

of people trafficking identified

(2023)

2721

persons

from Ukraine were represented on their way to protection status «S»

(2023)

690

complaints

were submitted at the Federal Administrative Court

(2023)

Many applications for protection status «S»

In 2023, a large number of applications for protection status «S» from people who had fled Ukraine had to be processed. Moreover, at the end of 2022, the SEM had to transfer many asylum seekers prematurely to the cantons due to a sharp increase of arrivals in the federal asylum centres. At the end of 2023, almost 300 people in Western Switzerland were still waiting for their first hearing, with around 200 applications pending in the Ticino/Central Switzerland region. Moreover, unaccompanied minors were transferred to centres lacking processing facilities, such as military barracks¸ which made dealing with their dossiers more difficult.

Our interpreting service was also in high demand. In 2023, the team supported 353 institutions in French-speaking Switzerland and Bern, as well as the legal representatives at the federal asylum centres. In total, the interpreters put in 65’501 hours of work on intercultural translations and communication – 40% more than in the previous year.

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© Nicolas Brodard

Header image: At the House of Education and Integration in Matran, refugees learn important skills that help them to integrate © Nicolas Brodard