Switzerland cares for refugees

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Following a challenge from General André Cox to provide a welcome to refugees, Switzerland responded by opening its corps doors.

Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer, chief secretary in the Switzerland, Austria and Hungary Territory, issued his own challenge as the Army’s refugee centers in Switzerland reached capacity to open the corps.

Just two days after his appeal, the first refugees arrived at the corps in Thun. While not a long-term solution, The Salvation Army is offering people a roof over their heads, a bed, a hot meal and a warm welcome.

Efforts went into preparing facilities, organizing beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs, and moving aside existing furniture, all supported by The Salvation Army Refugee Aid and numerous volunteers to ensure that the people are well received.

In the community building in Thun, 16 refugees from nine countries were accommodated. Communication is difficult, but a handshake, eye contact and words of welcome bring some relief to these exhausted people. A homemade risotto is served for dinner and sitting around a table makes everybody feel part of one family. Some have arrived via the Balkans; all have known the fears of crossing the seas. They don’t know what the future holds but at the moment they can rest. One of the men listens to music from his home country, perhaps providing some comfort.

The territory is deploying its forces on all fronts. In addition to its 14 admission centers, 12 corps in the Canton of Berne are considering the provision of emergency accommodation. Opportunities for the meaningful employment of refugees are also being investigated, as are other avenues to provide practical assistance to refugees in Austria and Hungary.

Find more about The Salvation Army’s refugee response.

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