Swiss Solidarity, the charitable arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, has started a fundraising campaign to help Iraqis affected by the war.This content was published on March 24, 2003 - 12:11
The charity said it would help civilians as soon as there was a change of government in Baghdad.
"Swiss Solidarity decided months ago to help the Iraqi population as soon as a regime change took place, though not necessarily through a war," Swiss Solidarity president and radio journalist, Roland Jeanneret, told swissinfo.
He warned that the country's infrastructure was already in a precarious state and in danger of breaking down completely as a result of war.
He recalled that more than one million people had died in Iraq since the United States-led embargo began, over half of whom were children.
Last week, two leading Geneva-based aid organisations issued a SFr219 million ($158 million) appeal to avert a humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the funds were needed for emergency operations and to help those forced to flee the conflict.
No strings attached
Swiss Solidarity is involved in projects both in Switzerland and abroad, with 30-40 per cent of aid used for charitable projects at home.
The assistance offered by the charity comes with no strings attached, Jeanneret says.
"In our statutes, it says we should help people regardless of the reasons why they find themselves in such a desperate situation," explains Jeanneret.
The charity reached a highpoint in 2000 when it raised SFr74 million for the Swiss border village of Gondo, which was torn apart by a landslide that claimed 13 lives.
"It's a big help that people can see the work we do in Switzerland - it brings it all closer to home."
Swiss Solidarity works together with over 30 Swiss charitable organisations, to which it distributes money according to the merit of projects.
"I know of no other system where competing charities pull together to work for a common goal," Jeanneret says.
He says their work is helped by the fact that the Swiss like to dig deep into their pockets when it comes to donations.
The average contribution to Swiss Solidarity is between SFr110-130, a high average compared to donations made in other countries.
swissinfo, Anita Hugi (translation: Faryal Mirza)
Swiss Solidarity was founded in 1946 by two radio journalists, and gained charity status in 1983.
It is charity division of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and works in collaboration with 30 other charities.
Some 30-40% of its funds go to projects in Switzerland.
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