A social and solidarity restaurant will open its doors in Geneva

Switzerland has blocked Russian funds and assets worth 5.75 billion francs since the start of the war in Ukraine. Reception places for refugees and staff to receive them are running out.

The amount of funds frozen so far also includes real estate located in various tourist cantons, Ambassador Erwin Bollinger said at a press briefing in Bern on Thursday. And that is likely to increase as the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is constantly receiving new announcements.

The funds are blocked but not confiscated, he further clarified. This means that the sanctioned person still owns their funds. The sanctions are primarily intended to limit the possibility of disposing of these assets, and there is no legal basis that allows confiscation in Switzerland, the ambassador specified.

Expectations from the banks

The amount of assets frozen to date is much lower than the total number of Russian funds present in Switzerland, carried forward by various parties. Not all those who are sanctioned necessarily have money in Switzerland, and not all those who have are on the list, commented Mr. Bollinger.

The Swiss list of people subject to sanctions is identical to that of the EU. 874 people are affected by these measures, in addition to 62 Russian legal persons. However, their number is likely to increase with the updating of the lists.

SECO expects banks to play their part in respecting the Swiss legal order. In particular, they have to declare Russian funds placed in bank accounts of over 100,000 francs. It is a notification obligation which does not entail any freezing, as the holders do not appear on the list of those sanctioned.

More than 13,000 refugees

On the receiving end of the reception of refugees, the capacities are beginning to be lacking. Nearly 13,000 Ukrainian refugees have registered in federal asylum centers since the start of the war, and protection status S has been granted to 7,622 of them.

The association plans to process about 50,000 applications for this status by the beginning of the summer. To cope with this influx, 2,000 to 3,000 additional accommodation places are needed, noted David Keller, director of the asylum crisis staff at the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Lack of staff

So far, there are still enough seats. More than 7,500 seats have been created for refugees, and about 5,500 beds were vacant until Wednesday, said Gaby Szöllösy, general secretary of the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Social Affairs (CDAS).

No less than 28,354 host families have also officially declared themselves to receive refugees. They offer a total of almost 70,000 beds. But the influx is so rapid that the Swiss Organization for Refugee Assistance (OSAR) does not have the time or resources to visit every family offering accommodation, said its director Miriam Behrens.

However, there is a significant need for staff to inspect, rehabilitate and maintain the buildings intended to receive refugees. There is also a shortage of staff to support Ukrainians fleeing the war and host families.

“A tragedy”

At the humanitarian level, the situation on the ground is “a tragedy”, noted Manuel Bessler, delegate for humanitarian aid and leader of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Corps. The Geneva Conventions are being trampled on. Entire cities are besieged as they were in the Middle Ages. Hospitals are being bombed. In Mariupol, 100,000 people have been deprived of everything, he illustrated.

In this context, about 12 million people need humanitarian aid, he said, and possible attacks on Odessa could cause a new exodus of 300,000 people. A railway connection is still in operation between Poland and Kiev. Switzerland was able to supply 500 tonnes of relief supplies to the area.

This article has been published automatically. Source: ats

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