Offer has proven its worth – Muslim pastoral workers remain in federal asylum centers – News

  • Muslim pastors remain permanently active in the federal asylum centres. After a two-year pilot project, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) decided to continue the offer as usual.
  • According to the SEM, the presence of the pastors is appreciated by both the migrants and the staff.
  • The Asylum Act is to be amended to finance the offer in the longer term.

A total of six Muslim pastors, including one woman, work in the four asylum regions of Zurich, Western Switzerland, Eastern Switzerland and Ticino, as well as Central Switzerland. Christians are also active in the centers.

Also used for conflict prevention

The pilot project has led to extremely positive results, the SEM reports. Muslim chaplains are a valuable resource for the asylum centers. Asylum seekers are happy to use the service. The staff working in the centers appreciate the religious, cultural and linguistic skills of the pastors.

University of Freiburg takes positive stock

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In two in-depth project evaluations, the Swiss Center for Islam and Society (SZIG) at the University of Freiburg came to the conclusion that the offer of Muslim pastoral care in federal asylum centers has largely proven its worth.

In the federal asylum centers, the number of aggressions, threats, harassment and other incidents has fallen in relation to the number of asylum seekers in the past year. According to information from last week, the SEM attributed the development to the prevention offer, among other things. This includes, for example, officers for conflict prevention and Muslim pastoral workers.


As early as 2016, a first pilot project was carried out with Muslim pastors at the Federal Asylum Center in Zurich. Even then, an evaluation showed very positive effects. However, the project was not pursued further at the time due to a lack of funding (picture from October 27, 2022).


Draft for the revision of the law in consultation

The costs for Muslim pastoral care amount to around 450,000 francs per year. The money in the pilot phase came from the operating loan of the federal asylum centers.

In order to ensure long-term financing, the SEM wants to specify the legal basis in the Asylum Act. A corresponding provision was therefore included in the proposal for the revision of the Asylum Act. This has been in consultation since January 25th.

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