No official Ukraine refugees in Saanenland yet

  28.03.2022 Local News

In order to provide simple and unbureaucratic assistance to refugees from Ukraine, the Federal Council decided on 11 March to grant S protection status to those from Ukraine who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the war. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that there are up to four million refugees from Ukraine. According to a press release from the cantonal government of Bern, large accommodation facilities are being evaluated, where Ukrainian refugees – the canton expects up to 30,000 by the end of the year – can be housed for the time being. From there, they should be placed in private accommodation if possible. The canton will consult with its regional partners on the question of accommodation. For the Obersimmental-Saanenland region, this is the Verein Asyl Berner Oberland (ABO).

Saanenland is ready
While space for 24 refugees has been made available in the attic flat of the holiday camp in Lauenen and for up to 12 in the tourist camp in Gsteig, neither municipality has yet received any official requests from the canton to accommodate refugees. However, Gsteig's municipal clerk, Paul Reichenbach, says that he knows of a private person who has already taken in relatives from the crisis area, and he also knows of people who speak Ukrainian and who might be able to act as interpreters if necessary. Director of the municipal administration Roman Gimmel describes the situation in the municipality of Saanen similarly: "No allocations have been made via the municipality to date. However, we are aware of direct placements with private individuals."
In consultation with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Federal Office for Housing (BWO), Swiss Refugee Aid (SFH) and offer a platform for the real estate industry as well as landlords and tenants to support the authorities in finding flats for Ukrainian refugees. Currently, 100,003 beds in 27,572 households have already been registered on this platform. In addition, there are over 520 hotels nationwide. Of these, one household with two beds in Schönried, two households with four beds in Gstaad, and one household with two beds each in Turbach, Lauenen and Saanen. This means that as of Wednesday, 23 March, twelve beds were offered by private individuals via Campax in Saanenland. In addition, there are two hotels in Saanen with a total of six single rooms, nine double rooms and ten three- to four-bed rooms.

Checking mobile phones and e-mails
But after making accommodation readily available comes the next equally important step. According to Campax managing director Andreas Freimüller, anyone who has made an accommodation offer should now make concrete preparations: Is the accommodation ready and clean and is the washing machine available? Are there play facilities for the children? Is there space for animals that have been brought along and is there time to support the refugees with everyday problems and errands? And it is very important for all those who have provided accommodation to check their e-mails and mobile phones regularly from now on. Because the refugees in the federal asylum centres cannot be mediated if the mobile phone is on silent and the e-mails are only checked once a week.

Based on AvS/Kerem S. Maurer

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