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Aid pressures Swiss charity Terre des hommes cuts 45 HQ posts

Terre des hommes helps Rohingya families who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar

Among its various humanitarian projects around the world, Terre des hommes helps Rohingya families who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar

(Keystone / Abir Abdullah)

The Swiss non-governmental organisation Terre des hommes, which helps children worldwide, has announced that it is cutting one fifth of the staff at its Lausanne headquarters after encountering financial difficulties. 

After discovering a CHF14.5 million ($14.4 million) hole in its 2018 accounts in March, Terre des hommes – which describes itself as the ‘leading Swiss child relief agency’ – says it plans to restructure its Lausanne headquarters and lay off 45 staff out of a total of 220. Twelve people are also leaving voluntarily. 

The agency blamed the financial problems on ‘insufficient budgetary management’ that led to incorrect income forecasts. All levels of the agency are affected, it said on Tuesday in a statementexternal link.

Measures to stabilize the organization are expected to save CHF7.5 million by the end of 2020. 

The news comes as the Swiss Catholic charity, Caritas, announced earlier this month that it plans to close offices in five out of the 20 countries in which it operates in the coming months. The reason: an expected shortfall in funding.  

Aid budgets are under pressure. Earlier this year, ten Swiss non-governmental organisations learned that they would no longer be eligible for EU humanitarian aid fundingexternal link. Aid agencies in non-member Switzerland had previously received the funds due to the strong Swiss-EU bilateral ties.

These moves come at a time of change to Swiss development aid. At the beginning of May, the Federal Council (executive body) announced that it wanted to shake-up Switzerland’s international development strategy. This included narrowing its focus to 34 countries instead of 44.  

The proposed international cooperation strategyexternal link for 2021-2024 is currently being discussed by relevant partners before approval by parliament in early 2020. 

Hard times Political hurdles risk undermining Swiss aid groups

Development aid organisations in Switzerland say they face increasing financial and political pressure to fund their activities.

This content was published on March 27, 2019 10:54 AM

Keystone-SDA/sb

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