A Swiss Village Would Rather Pay $300,000 Fine Than Accept Refugees

by
Amna Shoaib
The mayor wants the world to know the decision is not racially motivated. But is this true?

Swiss Village

Oberwil-Lieli may seem like your typical Swiss countryside paradise. Magnificent hills cascade over the landscape, a mellow green dominates the color palette and the town seems dreamy, almost sleepy.

Nestled among the hills are the mansions and sprawling lawns of some of Europe's richest, but the 300 millionaires in the town of 2,200 will not even accept just 10 refugees.

Oberwil-Lieli, Europe's wealthiest village, does not want to house anyone other than its current crop of conservative, filthy rich residents.

The town has voted by a 52-48 percent margin to keep refugees out and has instead agreed to pay a fine of over $292,000 — because it can. 

Oberwil-Lieli's reasons for building a metaphorical fence are typical: The residents do not wants the village's beauty to be tainted by an influx of uncultured, uncouth refugees.

Swiss Village

“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," a resident was quoted by The Independent as saying.

The conservative mayor, Andreas Glarner, has refuted all allegations that this decision was racist, and instead pushed for the refugees to be kept in countries close to their home.

Many such countries, like Lebanon, are already buckling under the pressure of increasing population.

Swiss Village

“They are not likely to be able to speak the language and if some of the refugees have children they will have to go into the local school where they will need special focus,” Glarner added.

The decision has invoked strong criticism from many quarters.

"This is as true in Switzerland and the U.K. 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," said Steve Symonds, Amnesty U.K.'s Refugee Program director.

With its riches, this village has all the resources to help the refugees. However, it seemingly has no will to do so.

Read More: Greece Begins To Clear Out Europe’s Largest Refugee Camp

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