London: A super-rich village in Switzerland, one of the wealthiest in Europe, has chosen to pay a fine of 200,000 pounds instead of accepting 10 refugees under the country's newly imposed quota system.
Residents in the picturesque Oberwil-Lieli village, which has 300 millionaires in a population of 22,000, voted 'no' in
a referendum over whether to accept the refugees.
The vote has resulted in a division in the town and led to people slamming residents for being "racist". But Andreas Glarner, the mayor of the village, denied that they were being racist by refusing the refugees.
"We were not to be told if the 10 were from Syria or if they are economic migrants from other countries. Yes, the
refugees from Syria have to be helped and they are better served by being helped in the camps nearer their home," said Glarner.
"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," he was quoted as saying by metro.co.uk.
Glarner added that the language barrier would also be an issue. "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," he said.
The Swiss government had recently announced a quota system to take in about 50,000 asylum seekers. The plan was to distribute the refugees across the country's 26 counties according to the quota system.
According to International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), around one million refugees arrived in Europe till 21 December 2015, three to four times more than in 2014.