Free transport and calls: How Swiss companies are helping Ukrainians

Swiss companies and organisations a range of changes to help benefit Ukrainian citizens. Here's how.

Free transport and calls: How Swiss companies are helping Ukrainians
Swiss Federal Railways will offer a free ride to Ukrainian refugees. Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Several companies and organisations have announced policy changes in order to help people impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Telecommunications companies Salt, Swisscom and Sunrise UPC each announced they are waiving the costs of calls to and from Ukraine on its network.

“Sunrise UPC’s thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and all those affected”, the company said in a press release.

“In view of this situation, Sunrise UPC will waive in a first step the costs for international mobile calls and fix net calls from Switzerland to Ukraine and from Ukraine to Switzerland with immediate effect and until further notice for residential customers. Roaming calls within the Ukraine and calls from the Ukraine to Switzerland will not be charged”.

The other networks have taken similar steps. 

Sunrise and Swisscom also announced it is stopping the distribution of the TV channels of RT (RussiaToday), a state-controlled television network.

READ MORE: How Switzerland reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

What about the railways?

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) are offering free long-distance train journeys to Ukrainian refugees.

SBB will allow people who have fled Ukraine to travel from the border to a certain destination in Switzerland or to cross the country by train.

The company said this move is in line with the decision of the Federal Council to imposing sanctions on Russia, and in agreement with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

READ MORE: Switzerland to impose sanctions on Russia

The country could take in up to 2,000 Ukrainian refugees, “depending on the evolution of the conflict”, according to SEM.

“Switzerland has the will to show solidarity. An emergency plan is available in the event of major migratory movements”, it added.

Similar announcements have been made by public transport networks in Austria, Germany and Poland, among other countries. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Around 200,000 immigrants have moved to Switzerland so far in 2022, pushing the total population close to nine million.

200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

In January 2022, Switzerland’s population stood at 8.74 million people, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

However, by the beginning of July, 100,000 more people were registered in Switzerland, government data shows.   

This upward trend toward the 9-million mark got a major jolt after February 24th, when Russia invaded Ukraine, causing a massive westward exodus of Ukrainians fleeing the war.

While Ukrainian refugees constitute the bulk — 60,000 people — of this growth spurt, 32,700 immigrants from other countries also came to Switzerland in this period, along with 6,800 asylum seekers.

The 200,000 immigrants is pushing Switzerland’s population close to the nine million mark. While this has not yet been reached, it could potentially be cracked before the end of the year. 

Who exactly are these foreign nationals?

The majority of immigrants currently in Switzerland — as opposed to refugees and asylum seekers — live here permanently or medium /long-term, on either the B or C permit.

They are predominantly citizens of EU / EFTA nations, mainly from Italy, Germany, Portugal and France.

READ MORE: Eight revealing statistics about Switzerland’s foreign residents

While third-nation citizens don’t constitute a large immigrant group because their residence and employment in Switzerland is subject to a quota system, Switzerland also has a sizeable population from Kosovo, as well as from the UK — about 40,000 people for the latter.

As far as asylum seekers are concerned, the additional 6,800 who came to Switzerland this year are, as is the case of nearly 15,000 already here, mostly from Afghanistan, Turkey, Eritrea, Algeria, and Syria.

The Swiss government expects that 80,000 more Ukrainians will come to Switzerland this year.

Taking into account net migration — that is, the difference between immigration and emigration — 60,000 more people will swell the ranks of Switzerland’s population by the end of the year.

This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone presently here or expected to come, will remain in Switzerland long-term.

The government expects Ukrainians to return home once the war is over, though the date of the ceasefire or the number of refugees who will actually go back is hard to predict.

READ MORE: ‘Cruel’ Swiss government video suggests Ukrainians to leave Switzerland

In regards to asylum seekers, statistics indicate that 22 percent of applications are rejected, which means some applicants will not be living here long-term.