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Two-thirds of Gondo disaster funds spent

Solidarity Chain officials say the cost of reconstructing Gondo has not yet been taken into account

(Keystone Archive)

Solidarity Chain, the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, has defended its charitable efforts for victims of a mudslide in Gondo, following media reports raising questions about the SFr74 million collected.

Roland Jeanneret, spokesman for Solidarity Chain, told swissinfo that two-thirds of the SFr74 million has already been spent, and reconstruction of the village of Gondo was not even included in those expenses, he said.

Between October 11 and October 15 last year, 13 people were killed and many others lost their homes in Gondo, in canton Valais along the Italian border, after heavy rains triggered devastating mudslides and floods.

Shortly after the disaster, Solidarity Chain launched its appeal to help the victims, and the public responded by digging deep into their pockets.

Some reports have recently questioned whether too much money was raised.

Jeanneret said he does not think the amount collected is too much. So far, SFr48 million have been spent on emergency help, first aid, temporary lodging, funeral costs, debris removal and reconstruction, he said.

Other villages aided

But Gondo was not the only village to receive the money. "The campaign was actually called 'Valais, Ticino and neighbouring regions’ as 32 communities in Valais and six communities in Ticino were also struck by the disaster," said Jeanneret.

He also said rumours of a surplus were unfounded, as 22.8 per cent of the damage, which amounts to about SFr120 million, is not covered by insurance.

Some observers raised the question of whether the funds could be spent on other causes. Responding to a query by swissinfo, Verena Kuenzle of Caritas said her charity would welcome the money for other victims of catastrophic events, but that it is not easy for funds collected for a particular purpose to be used for a different one.

According to Kuenzle, Caritas also raised money for earthquake victims in India at the beginning of the year. However, the amount collected was far less than for the Gondo disaster. "We could have used the money in other areas but if somebody gives you money for one area you cannot use it for another," she said.

There are still SFr26 million remaining to be spent on the reconstruction of Gondo and its neighbouring regions, according to Jeanneret.

If this amount does turn out to be a surplus, the money cannot be spent on other causes. The donor has the final say, according to Jeanneret.

"I think it’s up to the donors where the money goes and we have to respect it."

swissinfo with agencies


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