Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA

Why does Switzerland support the world's largest humanitarian aid organisation?

Aid workers help millions of people every day of the year. Worldwide, needs have increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 8 May is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day – and an occasion to highlight the joint efforts of the FDFA and the world's leading humanitarian actor to meet its global aid goals.

An African woman wearing a mask and an orange vest in a warehouse stacked with boxes

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating other humanitarian crises and making the work of volunteers on the ground even more crucial. © Keystone

Vital relief aid, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian world deserves a double distinction on this year's World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, which has been celebrated every 8 May for more than 70 years. It honours the efforts and commitment of more than 13 million volunteers working to prevent and alleviate human suffering around the world.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been added to the long list of global crises. The pandemic has made dire humanitarian situations even more complex according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which has called for more support to assist its volunteers working on the front lines.

Switzerland – which is the depositary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and host country of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – is a long-standing humanitarian partner of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. On this year's World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, Switzerland reaffirms its commitment to humanitarian action.

Specialists consider the global network of volunteers to be the mainstay of humanitarian efforts

Two aid specialists working for Switzerland's international cooperation and the IFRC tell us why they think World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is important, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Switzerland, as elsewhere, people applaud healthcare providers and others who are working to combat Covid-19. The millions of volunteers of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also deserve our applause. These individuals sometimes work in already difficult humanitarian contexts. This day is an opportunity to pay tribute to them. In the face of a pandemic such as Covid-19, it is important to rely on organisations with a global scope and which are also able to adapt their responses to local realities. This is why Switzerland supports the Movement and its millions of volunteers.
Manuel Bessler, head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid

Jagan Chapagain, IFRC secretary general
Video report on the vital work carried out by volunteers and the partnership between the IFRC and Switzerland

08 May 2020 - World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Video of Jagan Chapagain, IFRC secretary general

The IFRC and Switzerland

Switzerland and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement share the same principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in their humanitarian engagement.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Switzerland has amended its joint aid programme with the IFRC and released CHF 3 million in response to the initial appeals launched by the ICRC and IFRC to help stem the global spread of the pandemic. Switzerland is also supporting the efforts of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, such as those working in migrant reception centres in Greece and camps for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Additional contributions are expected in view of increasing COVID-19-related needs.

Switzerland is committed to a strong multilateral system and is a long-standing parter of the IFRC. It is one of the major donors for both the IFRC and ICRC and has close ties with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This year, Switzerland is also chairing the IFRC Donor Advisory Group.

Back to top