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Super-rich Swiss village opts for £200,000 fine instead of accepting 10 refugees

Oberwil-Lieli’s right-wing mayor denied it was a racist decision

Peter Yeung
Sunday 29 May 2016 15:08 BST
Oberwil-Lieli has 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200
Oberwil-Lieli has 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200 (Google Maps)

A Swiss village, one of the wealthiest in Europe, has refused to take in its government imposed quota of asylum seekers, voting to pay a fine of £200,000 instead.

The residents of Oberwil-Lieli, where there are 300 millionaires among a population of 2,200, voted “no” in a referendum over whether to accept just 10 refugees.

Swiss government proposals had outlined a quota across its 26 counties in order deliver on promise to take 50,000 asylum seekers across the country, but Oberwil-Lieli voted by 52 per cent to 48 to reject the refugees.

One resident of the village told MailOnline: “We do not want them here it is as simple as that.

“We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want it spoiled. We are not suited to take in refugees. They would not fit in here.”

Steve Symonds, Amnesty UK's Refugee Programme Director, called on the West to take on their fair share of refugees.

Mr Symonds told The Independent: "Just as it's wrong for richer countries to keep leaving it to poorer countries to host the vast proportion of the world's growing refugee population, so more wealthy communities need to share responsibility with the less affluent.

"This is as true in Switzerland and the UK as it is in countries like Lebanon, which are currently hosting very many more refugees than European countries. We all need to play our part or the current crisis will keep getting worse."

Andreas Glarner, Oberwil-Lieli’s right wing mayor, denied that by refusing to accept refugees they were being racist.

“We were not to be told if the 10 were from Syria or if they are economic migrants from other countries," he said.

“Yes, the refugees from Syria have to be helped and they are better served by being helped in the camps nearer their home.

“Money could be sent to help them, but if we are housing them here it sends out the wrong message. Others will come and risk their lives crossing the ocean and paying people smugglers to bring them.

Number of child refugees crossing into Europe swells

“They are not likely to be able to speak the language and if some of the refugees have children they will have to go into the local school where they will need special focus.”

In April 2016 there were 1,748 applications for asylum in Switzerland compared to 1,376 for the same month the previous year.

The Swiss Government has pledged to resettle 3,000 Syrian families fleeing Isis and the civil war in the country.

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