The Swiss Solidarity charity managed to raise over CHF3 million ($3 million) during a one-day national fundraising campaign on Wednesday to support the 780,000 Rohingya people living in Bangladesh refugee camps.
The money collected by the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (the parent company of swissinfo.ch) will be used to provide emergency aid to the refugees once the monsoon season starts.
With the onset of heavy rainfalls in Bangladesh, there will be serious difficulties in supplying about 220,000 refugees with food, water, medicine and shelter, according to a studyexternal link by the University of Dhaka. The study estimates that some 24,000 lives will be threatened, and these people will need to be moved to the mainland.
“With numbers so high, it is important that Swiss Solidarity’s partner relief organizations carry out the necessary back-up measures, help to evacuate those most in danger and repair any damages as soon as possible”, the organisation wrote in a press release external linkpublished on Wednesday.
Since August last year, over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar for Bangladesh as security forces carried out brutal crackdowns, following attacks by Rohingya insurgents.
The UN described the exodus as “one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world”.
In March, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein told the Human Rights Councilexternal link in Geneva that he believes “acts of genocide” may have taken place against the Rohingya in the Rakhine region of Myanmar and that ethnic cleansing is still underway.
In 2017, a one-day fundraising appeal for victims of famine in Africa by Swiss Solidarity and partner organisations raised CHF8.76 million.
CHF1.7 billion in 70 years
Set up in 1946, Swiss Solidarity has collected more than CHF1.7 billion in donations in various campaigns for victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts around the world.
The charity's largest fundraising initiative took place in 2004, when it collected CHF227 ($229 million) for victims of the Asian tsunami.
Swiss Solidarity has its origins in the aftermath of the Second World War. In 1946 radio producers Roger Nordmann and Paul Vallotton, together with entertainer Jack Rollan, set up a collection campaign on Radio Sottens (now Radio Suisse Romande) as a chain of solidarity, or "Chaîne du Bonheur" in its original incarnation, for war orphans. The charity has since become a part of Switzerland's identity and enjoys nationwide support.
"The humanitarian tradition is a sacred cow," its director, Tony Burgener, said in 2017. "We can conclude from this that the Swiss see solidarity as one of the most important values of our country."