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KIDNAPPING

Kidnapped US student abandoned near Lyon

A young American student kidnapped in Geneva upon leaving a nightclub was robbed and abandoned close to Lyon, east-central France, a detailed report revealed on Wednesday.

Kidnapped US student abandoned near Lyon
The Zoo nightclub, where the student had visited before being kidnapped, is located in this building, known as L'Usine. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The man was discovered disoriented and in shock on a regional road south-east of the city by a woman shortly after 5am on Saturday, according to regional daily Le Dauphiné Libéré, which published the report.

He had flagged down the motorist for help between La Verpillière and Satolas-et-Bonce, south of Lyon airport, the report said.

The woman sought help after the man, who spoke only English, kept repeating the term “kidnapping”.

The International Relations student from Philadelphia is working as an intern for the United Nations in Geneva, the newspaper said.

Interviewed by police from the town of La Verpillière, the victim explained that he had spent part of Friday evening at Zoo, a nightclub in downtown Geneva, according to the report.

Upon exiting the club late at night, people he had met at the disco, including a young woman, offered to take him home, he told police.

But the situation quickly turned ugly.

One of the occupants of the car blindfolded the American and warned him not to struggle.

He was then hit multiple times on the thigh and driven to the outskirts of Lyon.

The American told police he was robbed of all his valuables, including two mobile phones, his bank cards and US passport.

He was abandoned in the cold where he was ultimately able to flag down help.

An investigation was launched in cooperation with Geneva police, who discovered that the American man had left his jacket in the club, suggesting that he was inebriated when left, Le Dauphiné Libéré said.

However, one of his bank cards was taken by the thieves and used three times, including once at a Marseille petrol station, when it was last used.

The investigation continues.

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GENEVA

Is Switzerland ‘pilfering’ health workers from France during pandemic?

Officials in the Haute-Savoie area of France have accused private Swiss health clinics of poaching essential healthcare workers.

Is Switzerland 'pilfering' health workers from France during pandemic?
Health care workers from France prefer to work on the Swiss side of the border. Photo by AFP

The headline in Switzerland's Le Temps newspaper reads: “Geneva is pilfering our nurses”.

It comes from an interview with a French MP who laments how France is losing health workers to its neighbour at the height of a health crisis.

“The behaviour of some hospital administrators in Switzerland is totally unacceptable in the context of the health crisis”, Haute-Savoie’s deputy Martial Saddier said in an interview with Le Temps newspaper. 

He was referring to a practice of Swiss clinics recruiting health workers in France which French officials like Saddier says has caused a shortage of personnel in French hospitals in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saddier denounced several private clinics in Geneva for actively recruiting nursing staff from Haute-Savoie, luring them with salaries that are about two and a half times higher than those paid in the French region.

Though the phenomenon of medical workers from Haute-Savoie ‘migrating’ to Geneva is not new — 60 percent of nursing staff at Geneva’s university hospitals (HUG) live in France — Saddier said these recruitments should not happen during the pandemic. 

“While the number of infected people may be high in Geneva, Haute-Savoie is not spared either, with rates among the highest in France. We need all our vital forces”, he said.

Olivier Teissèdre, director of Hôpital privé Pays de Savoie (HPPS) pointed out that already during the first wave of Covid-19, “350 of our caregivers were recruited in Geneva, which put us in great difficulty. Today I lost 4 percent of my staff and had to shut down a night shift”.

“Now the shortage of caregivers is crucially felt because the care of Covid-19 patients is particularly heavy”, he added.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: Swiss flags hang over protesting French ski village 

At the start of the second wave, the HPSS set up a partnership with another Haute-Savoie medical facility, the Alpes-Léman public hospital.

“But we no longer have enough employees to maintain this partnership because there is too much movement of staff toward Switzerland”, Teissèdre said.

At the start of the pandemic, an agreement was reached with the Geneva authorities to stop recruiting medical personnel from France, but this commitment only concerns public hospitals. No such pact was made with private clinics.

Laurent Paoliello, spokesperson for Geneva’s Health Department said that while HUG, which is a public hospital, has respected the hiring freeze, the canton can’t impose similar restrictions on recruitment policies of private establishments.

“However, we consider it inappropriate to loot the region next door, especially during a pandemic”, he said.

Although the Haute-Savoie officials say that private hospitals have placed ads in a local newspaper, Le Dauphiné libéré, seeking French health care workers, Geneva’s clinics deny advertising in France.

“We only recruit through our site, or on Jobup.ch, as well as on social networks”, said Magali Dauwalder, spokesperson for the Hirslanden group of private hospitals, which manages La Colline et les Grangettes clinics in Geneva.


READ MORE: Switzerland rejects further coronavirus lockdown despite 'worrying' situation 

 

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