In the current crisis, Switzerland is committed to cross-border solidarity and aims to strengthen cooperation with other affected countries and international organisations. This was announced by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis last week.
First delivery of relief supplies to Italy
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) dispatched relief supplies to Italy for the first time yesterday. 10,000 protective suits worth CHF 100,000 have been handed over to the Italian Civil Protection Department on 9 April 2020. Other relief supplies delivered so far have gone to China, Nepal and Serbia. Further assistance is in the process of being implemented (Greece) or planned (second delivery for Italy). All deliveries are examined by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication (FOITT) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), to ensure availability of supplies and compliance with the measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland.
CHF 18 million for international organisations
The SDC is following the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in close cooperation with Swiss representations and partner organisations at home and abroad. Under existing budgets totalling CHF 18 million it is providing targeted support to organisations working to combat COVID-19 and its effects internationally, supporting health systems in affected countries and providing humanitarian aid. This includes contributions to UN organisations (WHO), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (including the International Committee of the Red Cross), the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Adjustments to SDC programmes amounting to CHF 56 million
The SDC is adapting its programmes to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. To back it up in its efforts, it has a network of partnerships in its partner countries and can rely on close cooperation with Swiss and international NGOs. Adjustments are planned for the SDC's global programmes and also at country level, for example in Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Bolivia, Honduras, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Moldova and Kosovo. Over the next three months, around CHF 56 million will be reallocated in this way.
The focus is on improving the income and livelihoods of people in need, boosting basic healthcare and food security, and supporting refugees and displaced persons. The four-year framework credits of international cooperation support these adjustments.
International solidarity more crucial than ever
"The COVID-19 crisis is above all a public health crisis. But it is already clear that it will have far-reaching economic, financial and social consequences," notes Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. In order to provide support as quickly as possible, under the UN's global humanitarian response plan around USD 2 billion is therefore to be made available to combat the pandemic. With the above-mentioned contributions, Switzerland is participating in this multilateral response.
It is in Switzerland's interest to support other countries in coping with the COVID-19 crisis and thus contain the further spread of the pandemic, with the grave consequences that would entail. If the pandemic spreads as rapidly in developing countries – especially in Africa – as it did in Europe and North America, the consequences will only be able to be mitigated with international support. Switzerland's humanitarian tradition is therefore of particular relevance in the current situation.
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