While Denmark faces a barrage of criticism over its controversial plan to seize refugees’ valuables, Switzerland has already been doing so for years, Swiss authorities said Friday. Swiss law has since the 1990s required asylum seekers to contribute to the costs of hosting them in the wealthy Alpine country. The country is permitted to confiscate from people seeking asylum amounts over 1,000 Swiss francs ($995). The U.N. High Commission for Refugees — which has condemned the bill being debated by the Danish parliament, cautioning it will fuel xenophobia — meanwhile said it had previously raised concerns about the Swiss law with authorities.
UNHCR has drawn attention to the fact that having to contribute a part of their salary could be an obstacle to accessing the labor market and to the integration of asylum seekers and persons with recognized protection needs.
UNHCR spokesman William Spindler
Meanwhile a town in western Germany has banned male refugees from its public swimming pools after complaints of harassment from female bathers and staff — news that comes as a national poll Friday showed that Germans are becoming increasingly concerned about the country’s ability to integrate the huge numbers of asylum seekers who arrived last year. Bornheim is a few miles south of Cologne, which saw hundreds of robberies and sexual assaults during New Year’s celebrations that police blamed largely on foreigners. The attacks have stoked a fierce debate in Germany about how to integrate the almost 1.1 million asylum seekers who arrived last year.