Ukrainian refugees take Switzerland to court over low benefits

Ukrainian refugees in the Swiss canton of Lucerne have sued the local authorities for low social benefits - up to $15 per person per day is not enough

"Social assistance for refugees and asylum-seekers in Lucerne is so low that a dignified life is not possible," says Green member of the Lucerne cantonal parliament Urban Frye. "That contradicts federal law - and ultimately the European Convention on Human Rights."

He is representing a group of Ukrainian refugees who have taken the issue to the Lucerne cantonal court and he is also paying their legal fees.

Refugees from Ukraine receive CHF11.50 ($12.60) per day if they live in a cantonal shelter or CHF14.15 if they are in individual accommodation. These payments are much too low, argues Frye, for people from Ukraine.

In canton Basel-Stadt, for example, refugees receive almost twice as much in daily support. He says such differences between cantons are incomprehensible, since living in Basel is not twice as expensive as in Lucerne. "The yogurt at Migros costs the same everywhere," he told Swiss State Television.

In addition, canton Lucerne gets about CHF550 per month from the federal government as social assistance for each refugee, but only pays out an average of CHF350, according to him.

Guido Graf, Lucerne government minister overseeing the issue, rejects the accusation that Lucerne is keeping federal funds for itself instead of passing them on to refugees. He says it is not only the monthly payments that should be taken into account but also the other costs of caring for and supporting refugees.

Switzerland pays the monthly medical insurance coverage, education, public transportation tickets, etc.

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