The Swiss government has announced it plans to commit CHF400 million ($410 million) in aid money to mitigate the consequences of Covid-19 in developing countries.
Half of that amount would be granted as an interest-free loan to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for work it is carrying out in over 80 countries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) would receive a loan of CHF25 million for its disaster fund.
The loans are to be approved by parliament in June.
The remaining CHF175 million will be provided to various international organisations active in the fight against Covid-19 in developing countries.
“A global crisis requires a global response,” Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the media on Thursday. Although Switzerland needed to take care of its own citizens in this difficult situation, “it is necessary to show solidarity with people in other countries, especially in poor countries”, he added.
The situation in these countries could become even more precarious as a result of the pandemic, Cassis said. Because of lockdown measures, many people are unable to work and feed their families, nor do they have access to social welfare assistance.
This aid commitment follows a request from the foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives for an increase of CHF100 million to the international aid purse.
Cassis emphasised that Switzerland had already provided assistance to countries affected by the novel coronavirus. For example, the Alpine nation had sent technical equipment to China before the pandemic hit Europe.
The Swiss Development Agency has adjusted its ongoing aid programmes to respond to the crisis and delivered relief supplies to affected countries that had requested them, including Nepal, Greece and Serbia.