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Swiss humanitarian effort to benefit from UN membership

Joseph Deiss (left) meets SDC director, Walter Fust, at Friday's conference Keystone

Switzerland's aid programmes around the world are likely to become more efficient as a result of the country's signing up to the United Nations.

This content was published on March 8, 2002 - 20:34

Walter Fust, director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - or SDC - said adhesion to the UN will make the humanitarian organisation more credible and efficient overseas.

Fust was speaking at the annual SDC conference held on Friday in the Swiss town of Montreux.

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, said Switzerland has until now been "handicapped" by staying out of the UN.

Last Sunday, the Swiss people voted to join the United Nations, a move which Deiss said would mean Switzerland could now participate fully in decisions taken by UN humanitarian agencies.

Aid for all

In a keynote address to 800 conference delegates, Deiss also made it clear that development aid should not be driven by global politics.

"Humanitarian aid should not just be destined for the victims who in our eyes merit our help for political reasons," Deiss said.

"All types of victims need our support, just as much in Iraq as among supporters of the Taliban," he added.

The SDC's annual meeting took place this year away from the Swiss capital, Bern, for the first time.

The humanitarian organisation, which has an annual budget of SFr1.2 billion, employs more than 500 people based both in Switzerland and in local coordination and liaison offices around the world.

swissinfo with agencies

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