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( Switzerland to send liaison officer for talks with Eritrea

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024

Switzerland to send liaison officer for talks with Eritrea

Migration chief State Secretary for Migration Christine Schraner Burgener has held the post since 2022. 

The Swiss government intends to send a liaison officer to eastern Africa for talks with Eritrea. State Secretary for Migration Christine Schraner Burgener said that the country's willingness to readmit its own nationals was a prerequisite for further negotiations.

Published on June 23, 2024 - 10:57

Switzerland is prepared to negotiate an agreement with Eritrea, said Schraner Burgener, State Secretary for Migration, in an interview with the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick.

Eritrea has thus far refused repatriation of Eritrean nationals from any country. “But we are staying on top of it and are in constant discussion,” she said. There are currently around 260 Eritreans in Switzerland whose asylum applications were rejected and thus should return to Eritrea.

The liaison officer will be stationed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and will be in Eritrea on a regular basis.

A transit agreement with a third country would not change Eritrea’s position, said the State Secretary. However, the SEM would examine this political demand.

In June, Parliament adopted a motion that would allow rejected asylum seekers from Eritrea to return home from Switzerland via a third country. As a migration partnership or readmission agreement with Eritrea has not been signed, the majority of the Swiss House of Representatives argued that more pressure was needed. It also called for a Swiss representative responsible for migration issues in the region.

The SEM is also examining the outsourcing of asylum procedures to third countries, as the State Secretary said. This would mean relinquishing sovereignty over the asylum decision, she noted. “We must never forget that we are committed to human rights and must also show solidarity,” she said.

She believes that the European Union’s plan to carry out reception procedures for asylum seekers with a low protection quota at the external borders is a “very good” approach. Switzerland had supported this reform, which should start in two years, said Schraner Burgener.

Schraner Burgener will have left the SEM by then. She is moving to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs because she is eyeing a post in an international organization, as she said.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs was looking for someone to run for the position and had asked her. She did not wish to comment further on the post, which will be advertised next year.

Adapted from German by DeepL/jdp

Switzerland to send liaison officer for talks with Eritrea

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