Le Matin reported that the commune of Oberwil-Lieli, in the Canton of Aargau in Switzerland, has decided to spend CHF 290,000 to avoid taking refugees.
The CHF 290,000 sum, included in the municipality’s revised 2016 budget, was accepted by a majority of the commune’s assembly last Friday. At the same time commune leaders have been given the task of looking at whether asylum seekers could be accepted in the future, something they need to report on before the next gathering in autumn.
Acceptance of Friday’s budget brings closure to an ongoing controversy. Last November, according to the Tages Anzeiger, the commune’s assembly decided to remove the payment from the budget.
In response to this, some unhappy residents organised a referendum, which took place in May. The vote drew 68.9% of voters, with a majority of 579 voting in favour of the payment, and 525 against it. The final step was for the commune’s assembly to vote again, which they did on Friday. This time the decision was in line with the referendum result.
Speaking to the Independent newspaper in May, Andreas Glarner (SVP/UDC), Oberwil-Lieli’s mayor said, “We were not to be told if the 10 were from Syria or if they are economic migrants from other countries. Yes, the refugees from Syria have to be helped and they are better served by being helped in the camps nearer their home. Money could be sent to help them, but if we are housing them here it sends out the wrong message. Others will come and risk their lives crossing the ocean and paying people smugglers to bring them.”
The money, which represents around CHF 138 for each of Oberwil-Lieli’s 2,100 residents, will be paid to 37 other Swiss communes willing to accept refugees, starting from the beginning of July. The charges are calculated based on an amount of CHF 110 per day for each person that is not accepted, and are intended to cover the costs of care and shelter.
According to Le Matin, Oberwil-Lieli is not the only commune to have taken the Swiss federal government’s offer of paying instead of housing refugees, an offer that has been available since the start of the year.