Oberwil-Lieli, a highly affluent Swiss village, voted against taking in 10 Syrian refugees despite a fine of £200,000 (AU$400,000) on the refusal. The village has a population of 2,200, of which 300 are millionaires.
The Swiss government marked off a quota for each of its 26 counties in order to achieve its target of accepting 50,000 refugees across the country. Oberwil-Lieli voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to not accept any refugee. “We do not want them here it is as simple as that,” said a resident. “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.”
Residents of the Swiss village expressed concerns over the security and safety of their women and children, fearing sexual attacks similar to the once that took place in Cologne. They are also wary of the refugees disrupting their peaceful way of life and the zero-crime rate at the village would be affected, the News.com.au reported.
Steve Symonds, Amnesty UK’s refugee programme director, told the Independent that he urged the West to come forward and accept their share of refugees.
“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,” the Independent quoted Symonds as saying. “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,” he added.
However, according to Oberwil-Lieli’s mayor, Andreas Glarner, refusing to accept refugees doesn’t tantamount to racism. “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.”
According to him, sending money to help them is a better idea than promising them to resettle elsewhere, as it would send them wrong messages. It would prompt them to leave their countries and take on the perilous journey through the ocean and also pay people traffickers to get them there.