Holidays in Switzerland for Belarussian children: agreement between Bern and Minsk

Bern, Press release, 18.03.2010

Today, Thursday 18 March 2010, Ambassador Pierre Helg, Deputy State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Andreï Evdochenko, deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, have met in Bern to exchange notes governing stays of children from Belarus in Switzerland. This exchange will pave the way for the continued voluntary hosting by Swiss families of children coming from regions contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster.

Switzerland has been hosting children from regions affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster for many years. Associations and families volunteering to host the children are thus able to give them the opportunity to have holidays in a more favourable environment. Recently, Belarus has approached Switzerland, as it has all other host countries, with a view to drafting a bilateral agreement on the norms governing these holidays for the reason that there have been a few cases in other countries where children have refused to return to Belarus.  

The agreement, established in the form of an exchange of notes, confirms the protection given to young people invited under Swiss law, but stipulates that the children staying in Switzerland are under guardianship and cannot become the object of an adoption procedure.  

Other European countries offering these kind of holidays have signed similar agreements with Belarus.

For further information, please contact:
Erik Reumann, spokesperson FDFA: +41 31 322 14 72

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs