Tuesday is National Donation Day and the Swiss Solidarity charity is collecting all day for victims of famine in Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (swissinfo.ch’s parent company) is also taking part.
Doris Leuthard, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, is supporting the action, personally taking donations from television studios in Zurich at around noon.
“If we act now, we might still be able to avoid the worst,” Leuthard said on Swiss public radio, SRF.
More than 300 volunteers will have been taking donations since 6am in the four studios of Swiss public television, SRF, in Zurich, Chur, Lugano and Geneva and will be doing so until midnight. According to Swiss Solidarity, CHF1 million ($990,000) had already been taken the previous evening.
Swiss Solidarity and its partner organisationsexternal link have issued an urgent appeal for money, saying Eastern Africa is facing an unprecedented famine and several million people could die.
A senior UN official has called the situation the “worst humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations” in 1945. Some 20 million people are under threat in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria. The worst drought in 60 years is being considerably aggravated by armed conflicts in some regions, Swiss Solidarity adds.
Partner organisations such as the Protestant Swiss Church Aid (EPER), Medair, Caritas Switzerland, the Swiss Red Cross and Terre des hommes are already present in the respective countries providing assistance. As a priority, money collected will go towards the distribution of food and water and emergency medical assistance for very young children.