According to newly released data, over 80 percent of Somalis living in the country rely on state handouts, followed by various other African and Middle Eastern migrant groups in Switzerland that also boast very high welfare dependency rates, all well above 50 percent.
Eritreans are at 54,7 percent while Angolans are at 54 percent. The dependent Eritreans and Angolans are followed by Ethiopians, Congolese and Iraqis.
The data was obtained by both the Federal Statistical Office and the State Secretariat for Migration and shows that the 4 000 or so Somalis in Switzerland are by far the most dependent with 83,7 percent relying benefits, Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes reported.
The number of Swiss nationals on welfare stand at a mere 2,3 percent of the population, while the number for Japanese nationals are the lowest with only 0,6 percent receiving handouts. Also low are the Irish (0,9 percent) and Australians (1,0 percent).
Damian Müller of the Swiss Liberals (FDP) said that the figures signal the number of “unqualified” asylum seekers as well as the failure of integrating those with refugee status into the Swiss economy. “Integration is not a one-way street,” he insisted, adding, “refugees are in debt [to society].”
The Swiss Federal Government wants to promote integration through the Agenda for Integration, a programme of the Confederation and the cantons which aims to integrate refugees and those who have been temporarily admitted, thanks to closer supervision, in order to reduce social assistance costs.
The main objectives are complete proficiency in a national language after three years. It requires 80 percent of children to communicate at school entrance, 66 percent of 16- to 25-year-olds fluent in basic vocational education after five years.
Also, fifty percent of adults must be integrated into the labor market after seven years, while 100 percent are familiar with Swiss living habits after only a few years.
In order to swiftly implement the agenda, the Federal Government’s flat-rate integration package to the cantons will be tripled to more than 132 million francs a year.
The rankings have scared polititians. According to Gaby Szöllösy, secretary-general of the cantonal Conference of Social Directors: “We assume that most of the people in these populations did not enter Switzerland as specialists.”
She cites other reasons that made the integration of people from Somalia, Angola or Congo so difficult:
• No work experience: Vocational qualifications obtained at home are not recognised in Switzerland.
• Bad health: Many have health ailments, others are traumatized by experiences in their home country.
• Too many offspring: Often there are large families among these population groups.
Bachir Gobdon of the association Somali Diaspora explained the high social welfare dependency of his compatriots with their big families. “Many still have the status of provisional residents for a period of ten or more years. For example, they work in the hospitality industry, where wages are low. A family that has seven children, for example, can not live on it.”
Gobdon expects that the Somalis will soon integrate. “The majority of Somalis are well integrated and naturalized in recent years,” he said.
The statistics resemble those in other countries like Sweden, where the jobless rate for migrants is much higher than the rate for native Swedes. Data showed that while Swedes had a rate of only 3,6 percent unemployment, the figure for migrants was 19,9 percent.
In Germany, a report from the German Federal Employment Agency last year revealed that more than half of those on the Hartz IV welfare programme were migrants. Foreign welfare recipients increased by 69 percent since 2010 while Germans on welfare declined by 20 percent.