Switzerland to provide CHF 400 million in support of international action to combat the coronavirus
Bern, 30.04.2020 - Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. The pandemic is compounding an already precarious situation in countries beset by poverty, armed conflict or natural disasters. To mitigate the consequences of the pandemic, the Federal Council has decided to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with a CHF 200 million interest-free loan and to contribute CHF 25 million to an IMF rapid credit facility to help countries address the pandemic. A further CHF 175 million is to be allocated to help strengthen internationally active organisations and international cooperation to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. With these funds, Switzerland is showing solidarity during the global crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on everyone's lives. Lockdown restrictions on business activity are threatening livelihoods in developing countries in particular. When the world's poorest lose their jobs or are prevented from going to work, they cannot feed their families. Most have no job security or the benefit of a robust social safety net to protect them in a crisis such as this one. The risk of social unrest is growing and millions more will lose their livelihoods and have no alternative but to leave their home and country. It is in Switzerland's interests to address the causes of forced displacement.
Contributions to internationally active organisations to combat the pandemic
The Federal Council is responding to urgent appeals for financial support from the UN, the WHO, the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the G20 and other organisations to help them maintain their ability to address the pandemic. The major internationally active organisations need funds to take additional measures to slow down the spread of the virus and to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
The Federal Council has agreed to contribute CHF 400 million to international efforts, particularly in developing countries. As a first step, it wants Switzerland to grant the ICRC an interest-free loan of up to CHF 200 million, repayable within seven years. In addition, it has proposed to contribute CHF 25 million to the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. Parliament will take a decision on both loan and contribution in the summer session. In May, the Federal Council will decide on additional contributions of up to CHF 175 million for various internationally active organisations.
This Federal Council's decision also responds to a motion put forward by the National Council Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a CHF 100 million increase in humanitarian aid credits for 2020.
Swift and effective international cooperation response
Switzerland has responded quickly and effectively to the crisis through its development cooperation programmes. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has made targeted adjustments to its programmes, particularly those being implemented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), to address the pandemic. The Federal Department of Economics, Education and Research has, for its part, adapted programmes currently being undertaken by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Over CHF 100 million in additional funding has been allocated from the current budget. These funds will be used to strengthen the work of organisations such as the UN (including the WHO), the ICRC and the IFRC as well as humanitarian and pandemic-related SDC projects. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has already delivered relief supplies at the request of affected countries. Switzerland is also supporting the efforts currently being undertaken by the World Bank Group and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
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