Swiss authorities reject accusations they are violating would-be refugees’ rights to seek asylum. But a growing throng of migrants waiting near Como in northern Italy and aid workers tell a different story: The Swiss border is effectively closed.
“Wait here until we understand the situation,” volunteer Lisa Bosia Mirra told the Ethiopian couple, who did not give their names, after they sought her help with Swiss asylum applications. “One week at least.”
Mirra, a member of the regional parliament in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region that borders Italy, told them not to try to cross until then, since to be registered and deported could dash any hope of winning Swiss asylum.
Still, the pair, fearing the prospect of the mother giving birth in a Como park without shelter or sanitation, said they would try their luck anyway and enter Switzerland, a longtime haven for refugees, by train.
Several hundred migrants have slept on towels and blankets in the park near Como’s train station since the Swiss clampdown began in mid-July, separating people from relatives or friends who had crossed some months before.
Non-governmental and human rights groups like A