Press release of 26 March 2020

Corona pandemic: HEKS provides emergency aid in Switzerland and abroad

The seemingly unchecked spread of coronavirus is confronting our society with major challenges, which we can only defeat by acting together and in solidarity. Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) is therefore launching an extensive emergency aid programme. HEKS/EPER has set itself the goal, with the support of the Swiss people, of raising at least one million francs in donations to support people at home and abroad facing hardship caused by this pandemic and who are in dire need of assistance.

We are all being hit hard by the ongoing worldwide spread of coronavirus. First and foremost, of course, are all those who contract the virus and fall seriously ill, as well as their loved ones who live in a state of heightened concern during the often protracted recovery phase. But also for all others who are fortunate enough to escape infection, day-to-day life currently involves major constraints and anxiety about the future. Self-employed persons, entrepreneurs or employees are seeing above all their economic survival under threat from lost income or the possible loss of wages. Others for their part are wondering how they will manage to look after their children in the long run. Socially disadvantaged people on the fringes of society are being hit particularly hard by the longer-term health, economic and social repercussions of the corona pandemic. They therefore need our solidarity and support. This is especially true also for the most vulnerable population groups in the countries of the South.
Corona-Pandemie: Stehen wir gemeinsam ein für die Schwächsten!
Mahamudur Rahman/NurPhoto/Dukas

Programmes for the socially disadvantaged in Switzerland

HEKS/EPER is gearing its emergency aid programme in response to the corona pandemic towards the most pressing needs of beneficiaries under its current regional programmes in Switzerland and its projects in priority countries around the world.

In Switzerland, HEKS/EPER is currently looking into the creation of an online teaching platform for German conversation courses for migrants. Also being explored are ways in which children from needy families can be assisted through learning aids for digital home schooling. Owing to the impacts of the corona pandemic on the economy and the job market, there is now also great demand for information regarding labour law issues. The HEKS/EPER Regional Offices are therefore considering expanding their existing legal advice programmes accordingly, in particular for socially disadvantaged Swiss citizens and migrants. Also being looked into is a telephone advice and service programme, for example for people in urgent need of intercultural interpreting services, or for parents who speak foreign languages and wish to receive parenting advice.

Information and prevention for marginalized social groups

Those worst affected by the consequences of the corona pandemic in many HEKS/EPER programme countries are marginalized and socially disadvantaged population groups and others such as indigenous people or refugees, who have little or no access to medical services. It is therefore all the more crucial for these people to have the most reliable possible information concerning the risks and consequences of a coronavirus infection and to be taught preventive measures that are easy to implement. HEKS/EPER therefore plans to undertake intensive educational work on the dangers and risks of contracting coronavirus and suitable prevention methods as well as protective hygiene measures. Concurrently, there are plans to further improve and expand sanitary infrastructure in various countries where HEKS/EPER already provides emergency humanitarian aid or development cooperation.

In several programme countries HEKS/EPER also supports particularly vulnerable families who have lost their incomes and employment opportunities as a result of the pandemic emergency. Consideration is therefore being given, for example, to providing unconditional cash transfers. This will enable beneficiaries to continue buying food and other urgently needed everyday items. And as part of church cooperation, HEKS/EPER provides funding in rural areas of Eastern Europe for home care services for the elderly and people who live alone. This provides some relief for hospitals as well as relatives caring for patients who have contracted coronavirus or are grappling with other health problems.

Help people in need in Switzerland and abroad! Many thanks!

Dieter Wüthrich
Head of Media and Information Department
Dieter Wüthrich

Phone: +41 44 360 88 66
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70

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