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For Amnesty International - Switzerland

Asylum seeker in Chiasso / Switzerland 

Regardless of how they crossed the Swiss border, asylum seekers have to announce to the Federal Office for Migration in one of the registration centres in Chiasso, Vallorbe, Basilea and Kreuzlingen. Once given their personal data they are subjected to a second interview where personal and familiar relationships are established as well as the asylum reasons are explained. For security matters every single individual is double checked,  fingerprinted, photographed and filed. This operation helps to recognize the real identity and prevents refugees from numerous registration attempts under different names and circumstances. The registration procedure lasts between 5/10 days, mostly lived with frustration, resignation or fear of a new deadline. 

Since facts cannot be denied, the first typical day of every illegal alien trying his luck in Switzerland looks like described, and this body of work reveals the first hours of it. What did happen before certainly remains a mistery usually covered with lies or silence, but explained with deep looks which don’t need a closer investigation. Obviously the trip unpredictability flavoured by the lack of a financial support obliges these solitary ramblers to accept an endless vagrancy before arriving to Chiasso. In 2008, 16606 new immigrants presented their asylum pretensions in Switzerland,  23% of them have been accepted.


*Project realized with the kind collaboration of the Swiss Border Police Forces, and the Ticino Cantonal Police.


Children of the barracks - Zürich, Bern, Aigle, Brünig / Switzerland 

In Switzerland people whose asylum application has been refused receive provisional support. Families are barracked and get six to twelve Francs per day. The children, usually born in Switzerland, suffer many difficulties. Their educational development is threatened by a very strict integration policy. According to the Federal Office for Migration in 2009, 1,200 children and teenagers were signed up to emergency centers. Amnesty International demands full respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Almost every child living in emergency accommodations suffers from psychological and mental disorders.


*Project realized under request of Amnesty International, Solidarité sans frontières, Swiss observatory for refugees rights and OSAR. A larger part of it has been used for the 2011 "Refugees in Emergency" campaign.

© Jacek Pulawski