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Website Safety-for-refugees with chatbot EMA

Project state


Project start

July 2022

Funding duration

12 months

Universities involved


Practice partners

AOZ, FIZ, Act212, SEM, SFH and SUN

Funding amount DIZH

CHF 59'000

Websites in German are a big hurdle for refugees. To better support these people from abuse on the labor market and with questions about housing, a multilingual website with a chatbot was developed.

With the activation of protection status S, Switzerland is confronted for the first time with a large group of protection seekers who are accommodated in private host families without state support and are allowed to work from the day they receive S status. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and harassment. The Safety for Refugees project was launched on this basis.

The project includes a website that works with the chatbot EMA to offer refugees more protection against experiences of injustice.

The project focuses on the empowerment of refugees through the simple, user-centred availability of information in technical language on the internet, which has so far been numerous, scattered across various sources and fragmented. This approach is intended to facilitate orientation in sensitive subject areas and thus create clarity about right and wrong.

In addition to the information function, the website also offers the possibility of counselling regarding the individual situation. For this purpose, the chatbot EMA takes over a multilingual triage function and mediates among topic-specific counselling offers. Last but not least, EMA offers the possibility to report experiences of injustice directly to the specialised organisation Act212.

With these various functions, the chatbot EMA manages the interfaces between information and victim counselling for refugee vulnerable persons.

Safety-for-Refugees was launched as part of the Rapid Action Call “Dealing with emergency situations as consequences of the war against Ukraine”. The pilot project also serves to learn more about the opportunities and challenges of automated interface management.

In the pilot project version, the chatbot EMA exclusively handles the topics “living in a host family” as well as “working” for people seeking protection with status S in the canton of Zurich in the languages Ukrainian, Russian, German and English. Thus, the chatbot EMA provisionally covers the complexity of a residence status in a canton with 160 municipalities and four languages.


Judith Bühler, ZHAW Soziale Arbeit, Institut für Delinquenz und Kriminalprävention

Andrea Hartmann, ZHAW Soziale Arbeit, Institut für Delinquenz und Kriminalprävention

Prof. Dr. Dirk Baier, ZHAW Soziale Arbeit, Institut für Delinquenz und Kriminalprävention

Dr. Don Tuggener, ZHAW School of Engineering, Centre for Artificial Intelligence

Prof. Dr. Mark Cieliebak, ZHAW School of Engineering, Centre for Artificial Intelligence

Practice partners 


FIZ Fachstelle Frauenhandel und Frauenmigration

Call type: 2. Rapid-Action-Call