Swiss Solidarity organised a one-day national fundraising campaign on Wednesday to support children who are victims of war.
The charitable arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation was aiming to raise millions of francs for distribution among projects around the globe.
Swiss Solidarity said that by midnight on Wednesday, it had received calls pledging donations totalling SFr3.5 million ($2.7 million).
It is estimated that around 12 million children are affected by armed conflict. Some 300,000 are child soldiers, fighting in wars.
And it is children who are always most affected by war and traumatised in the long-term, explained Catherine Baud-Lavigne, head of the Swiss Solidarity campaign.
Aid must therefore be given not just during emergencies, but also after hostilities have ceased, she says.
Lack of hope
“We don’t always get to see the most desperate of situations,” Baud-Lavigne said.
And in her opinion, post-war situations are often particularly difficult to manage.
In Bosnia, for example, where Baud-Lavigne was project leader, the war during the 1990s saw children cling steadfastly to a hope that the crisis would end.
Now that the guns have fallen silent, paradoxically, children are traumatised and do not know what to hope for, or place their hopes in.
Compounding their desperate plight is the fact that the world has lost interest in Bosnia, she says. As a result, funds are drying up for aid projects at a time when money is arguably most needed.
Around one third of children in Bosnia are estimated to be in need of psychological treatment.
Aid to Iraq
The Solidarity Chain – which coordinates fundraising campaigns on behalf of Swiss charities – said the money raised would go towards a variety of projects.
One recipient is the Swiss charity, OSEO, which is operating in northern Iraq. The organisation supports around 300 families with 750 children who live in a refugee camp in Kurdistan.
Mobile teams also help 4,500 children living in remote regions.
Other projects Swiss Solidarity hopes to raise money for include a daytime welcome centre for young people in Chechnya, school support in Colombia and the reintegration of young Angolans who are still in refugee camps.
Child soldiers in Sierra Leone, the construction of an orphanage in Eritrea and therapy programmes for children traumatised by war also feature on the Swiss Solidarity list.
The aim of Wednesday’s fundraiser is to donate money to select projects that can be supported over an extended period of time, Baud-Lavigne stresses.
This is in contrast to the often short span of world attention – and sympathy – the victims of conflicts receive, she argues.
swissinfo, Chantal Nicolet (translation: Samantha Tonkin)
Donations to the child victims of war appeal can be made by telephone (0800 87 07 07 within Switzerland) or via internet - http://www.swiss-solidarity.org.
Swiss Solidarity is the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
It supports emergency programmes for people suffering from the consequences of armed conflicts and natural disasters.
November 19 is Swiss Solidarity's fundraising day for child victims of war.
Swiss Solidarity will use its collected funds to finance projects run by Swiss humanitarian partner organisations.
The Swiss abroad can contribute by logging on to www.swiss-solidarity.org.
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