The rich Swiss village that opted for a $400,000 fine instead of taking in 10 refugees

By Simone Mitchell

Residents of Oberwil-Lieli voted "no" in a referendum over whether to accept just 10 refugees. Photo / Google Maps
Residents of Oberwil-Lieli voted "no" in a referendum over whether to accept just 10 refugees. Photo / Google Maps

There are plenty of great things in Switzerland.

Swiss cheese. Army knives. The Red Cross. The Alps.

But one not so great thing is the small cashed-up village that elected to cop a $400,000 fine instead of taking in 10 refugees.

The report in the Independent details how the residents of Oberwil-Lieli (where there are 300 millionaires among a population of 2200) voted "no" in a referendum over whether to accept just 10 refugees.

The Swiss Government has pledged to resettle 3000 Syrian families fleeing Islamic State and civil war in the country. Swiss government proposals had outlined a quota across its 26 counties in order deliver on promise to take 50,000 asylum seekers across the country, but Oberwil-Lieli voted by 52 per cent to reject the refugees.

One resident told MailOnline: "We do not want them here it is as simple as that.

"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."

They say they fear that their women and children could be at risk from sex attacks (like the ones that occurred in Cologne) and that their "peaceful way of life" will be disrupted. There were also concerns that their zero crime rate would be affected.

Andreas Glarner, Oberwil-Lieli's right-wing mayor, denied that by refusing to accept refugees they were being racist.

"We were not to be told if the 10 were from Syria or if they are economic migrants from other countries," he said.

"Yes, the refugees from Syria have to be helped and they are better served by being helped in the camps nearer their home.

"Money could be sent to help them, but if we are housing them here it sends out the wrong message. Others will come and risk their lives crossing the ocean and paying people smugglers to bring them.

"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."

Since the vote the mayor, 54, said he has been bombarded with messages of support from other villages and towns across the country for taking a stand against the quota system.

He produced a car sticker that says 'I love Oberwil-Lieli' and has sent out more than 1000.

'It might say I love Oberwil, but to those who have asked for the sticker it means "we don't want refugees",' he said.

Empathy for refugees is a hot topic at the moment.

Amnesty Poland yesterday posted a Facebook video, in which European residents were asked to spend four minutes staring at an asylum seeker (studies suggest it takes four minutes of direct eye contact for strangers to fall in love).

Here's what happened. It's pretty powerful stuff.

... Those rich Swiss folk should take a look.


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