Switzerland has developed a strategy to encourage Ukrainians to voluntarily return to their homeland, according to a report from SwissInfo news outlet. Under this strategy, the Swedish authorities are willing to provide financial assistance of up to $4,000 to each Ukrainian refugee who agrees to go back home. The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has developed a provisional government strategy that expects Ukrainian refugees to leave Switzerland within a window of six to nine months.
The plan is based on lifting the ‘S protection status’ for migrants by 2024 or 2025. It is estimated that around 70,000 Ukrainians will be able to safely return home at that point, with 80% of them expected to do so voluntarily. However, there is concern that the remaining 20%, approximately 14,000 people, may choose to stay past the departure deadline. The longer these individuals stay in Switzerland, the less likely they will be to leave of their own accord.
In order to encourage voluntary departures, the SEM insists on providing financial assistance to the refugees. The amounts offered vary between CHF 1,000 and CHF 4,000 ($1,090 to $4,355) per person, depending on the departure phases. The aim of this assistance is to create incentives for Ukrainians to return home voluntarily, rather than relying on coercive measures.
Poland has also announced its plans to gradually phase out financial assistance to Ukrainian refugees starting next year. The government spokesperson, Piotr Muller, explained in a recent interview that the period during which Ukrainians were fleeing their country en masse has passed. Therefore, the financial aid intended as temporary support should now be phased out as well.
According to the latest UN estimates, there are over 6 million Ukrainian refugees globally, with a significant number residing in Europe, particularly in countries like Poland and Germany. Additionally, the Russian security services claim that an additional 5.2 million refugees have crossed into Russia since the fighting began last year.
The authorities in Kiev have been urging Western countries not to view Ukrainians living abroad as refugees but as people who have been “forced to leave Ukraine.” The head of Ukraine’s State Migration Service, Natalia Naumenko, has insisted that migration services in other countries should not create integration programs specifically for Ukrainian citizens.
The Swiss strategy to encourage voluntary returns aligns with the aim of assisting Ukrainians in their decision to return to their homeland. By offering financial assistance and creating incentives, the hope is to reduce the number of Ukrainians choosing to stay in Switzerland beyond the determined deadline. The ultimate goal is for Ukrainians to rebuild their lives and contribute to the development of their country.