When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Geneva To “Delinquent” Asylum Seekers: Here's Cash For A (One-Way) Ticket Home

Authorities in Switzerland’s Geneva canton would love to bid adieu to the area’s non law-abiding asylum seekers. They’re now offering people a new incentive to ship off on their own accord: cash. But when does the offer go too far?

(Kuster & Wildhaber Photography)
(Kuster & Wildhaber Photography)
Mirko Plüss

GENEVA - The region around Geneva is experimenting with a new approach to the problem of so-called delinquent asylum seekers: money for a one-way ticket home. Under a pilot project, authorities are offering asylum seekers who've run afoul of the law the cash needed to help pay for their trip home – presuming they decide to go voluntarily.

Renata Gäumann, a migration expert and coordinator of the Basel-Stadt canton asylum and refugee office, defends the principle – even where delinquent asylum seekers are involved. "An incentive system can be very effective when sanctions don't work anymore," she says. The proper balance must be maintained, however, between asylum seekers leaving the country on the one hand and the application of existing laws on the other.

What concerns Gäumann specifically is where to draw the line with criminal asylum seekers. "Up to what level of criminality do they get financial support for the trip home? At what level does the help stop?" In everyday situations, deciding that could be very delicate, she says.

In addition, Gäumann adds, there is the danger of a "pull effect," meaning the measure could actually lead to an increased number of asylum applications. Therefore, the expert says, it is crucial that this newly introduced financial support stay within bounds and not exceed existing repatriation financing arrangements.

Cheaper than a pricey plane flight

Many questions would need to be cleared up before the practice could be introduced by the federal government and hence practiced by all the cantons, Gäumann says, pointing out that in recent years there had been a certain lack of clarity on the part of the Federal Office for Migration (BfM) as regards the issue of criminality and financial help to leave the country.

The BfM, however, rejects this and refers back to existing laws which state that delinquent asylum seekers are expressly excluded from receiving such financial aid. Press speaker Michael Glauser stressed, however, that the BfM was very interested in the voluntary return home of asylum seekers. "If you add it up, giving asylum seekers money to help pay for the trip home costs Switzerland less than if we have to organize special flights that cost several thousand francs per person," he said.

Glauser added that very positive experiences were had last year with the system. "Since the Arab Spring, 350 Tunisians volunteered to return to Tunisia. And they are the best ambassadors to make the case for not seeking asylum in Switzerland – they relativize the image Switzerland has of being the land of milk and honey," he said.

Glauser did not wish to comment on the Geneva pilot project. "The canton is responsible for the project, although of course we are observing it." The BfM's priority right now, he added, were the bilateral talks with Algeria. Switzerland has had an agreement with regard to the repatriation of asylum seekers with Algeria since 2006, and talks are presently on-going about an implementation protocol expected to be signed soon.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest