Swiss Solidarity launches national appeal to support Covid victims worldwide

Contributions will go toward helping vulnerable people hit by the pandemic, including refugees in Bangladesh’ Cox's Bazaar Photo: Swiss Solidarity

Humanitarian charity Swiss Solidarity (Chaîne du Bonheur) has launched a nationwide appeal to help vulnerable people in countries hit hard by the social and economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The campaign, in collaboration with SRG SSR, will support the work of humanitarian organisations in 15 countries, with the proceeds going towards helping affected populations with basic needs such as food and healthcare.  

Tasha Rumley, humanitarian programme manager, said it will also look to support vulnerable areas in more robust countries, such as refugee camps in Greece and Tanzania or in slums of large cities like Myanmar.

Since it was established 74 years ago, the charity has collected more than CHF1.8bn in public donations to fund projects both in Switzerland and abroad. Its first Covid-19 appeal launched six months ago, raised CHF42m  to help victims of the crisis in Switzerland.

To date, more than CHF35m has already been used to finance over 150 projects led by 114 organisations to help people such as the elderly and homeless with emergency assistance and food aid. 

In July, Swiss Solidarity released CHF2m from its emergency fund usually dedicated to natural disasters to help its partner organisations respond to the pandemic in other parts of the world struggling with extreme poverty, as well as refugee camps, slums and war zones. The latest appeal will help build on that support.

The countries of focus for the latest fundraising are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

“We tried to identify the 15 countries that are most hit by the crisis, not only in terms of the number of cases, but we were also really looking into the social and economic impact, and we know that these countries have struggled to face the crisis by themselves,” Rumley told Geneva Solutions.  

“They don’t have the correct resources, they don’t have a welfare system that could support the people who have lost their income or are jobless because of the confinement and the lockdowns. So this list was difficult to make, because you want to be fair and because you want to give assistance where it is most needed.  But after reflection, this is what we came up with.”

Swiss Solidarity works with 26 non-governmental organisations, including Caritas, Handicap International, Fondation Hirondelle, Medair and Save the Children, who will be selected after the fundraising depending on the projects that they will submit. 

Rumley said no target fundraising amount has been set. Despite the past success of Swiss Solidarity’s TV-led campaigns, she added that it was difficult to anticipate the response of the public.

“This humanitarian role of Switzerland is something that is very strong in our culture and for people it is important that we continue playing this role and that our well-known NGOs can go to the field and make a difference for people that need it the most. 

“So there will be a response from the public but of course, each time, you don’t know. We don’t plan and we don’t set a target. We are ready to accept any donations. This is no such thing as a small donation. Everyone donates as much as they can.”

Contributions can be made through Swiss Solidarity’s donation page or via its postal account 10-15000-6 citing “Coronavirus International”.