Press release, 23 February 2021

HEKS/EPER launches new COVID-19 solidarity campaign: «Sticking together while keeping a distance»

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly reveals the often precarious living conditions of millions of people around the world. From the very start of 2020, Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) therefore adapted many of its projects in Switzerland and abroad to suit the specific needs of this crisis. Through its nation-wide campaign «Sticking together while keeping a distance», HEKS/EPER is yet again calling on the Swiss population to show solidarity towards those people who have been hit particularly hard by the consequences of the virus.

How can you wash your hands without access to clean water? How can you work from home if you are jobless? How can anyone with a fever and cough stay home if they are homeless? How are people who have to live in an overcrowded refugee camp supposed to keep their distance from one another? Each day HEKS/EPER renews it efforts, through its projects, to provide answers to these questions. Likewise during the COVID 19 pandemic, it strives to help people in need, to improve their outlook on life and to enable them to live in dignity. 

From Bangladesh to Venezuela...

With HEKS/EPER support, it has so far been possible to avert a rapid spread of the disease and hence a humanitarian tragedy in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, for example. HEKS/EPER is cooperating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide hygiene training courses for medical auxiliaries, to supply first aid centres with soap and drinking water and to improve waste disposal. In addition, tarpaulins, blankets and protective masks are distributed to people living in the refugee camps. In Venezuela HEKS/EPER works with a local partner organization to ensure that Latin America's largest university hospital in Caracas is regularly disinfected. In Ethiopia too, HEKS/EPER is ensuring safe and sustainable access to clean drinking water and improved sanitary facilities for many communities, schools and health facilities.

 ...from Geneva to St. Gallen 

In Switzerland HEKS/EPER is turning to inventiveness, telephones, digital channels and social networks to make up for the lack of places and opportunities for meeting and social exchange, to break through the social isolation of the disadvantaged members of society, as well as to inform and support migrants, refugees and sans papiers in a crisis that threatens their very existence. For example, as part of the "AltuM" (Age and Migration) programme in the Cantons of Aargau, Solothurn and Zurich, as well as its French-language companion programme "Age et Migration" in the Cantons of Vaud and Geneva, HEKS/EPER ensures that older migrants, including many people at risk, receive important information about labour law, social assistance and official COVID-19 measures via "WhatsApp" or "Viber" groups. Furthermore, informative videos on issues relating to health and ageing are being prepared. Besides, there are regularly organised, virtual multilingual meetings over coffee. In the Canton of Vaud, a HEKS/EPER hotline for psychosocial support is having a very good uptake. An online radio station is also being set up to provide Corona-specific information. 

Corona-Nothilfe: Permanences Volantes in Genf
Already during the first COVID-19 wave in the spring of 2020, HEKS/EPER launched "CoronaNews" in Western Switzerland and the "Corona Helpline" in German-speaking Switzerland to keep socially underprivileged people and speakers of foreign languages constantly informed about restrictions ordered by the authorities and about their rights. In Western Switzerland, HEKS/EPER works through its "Permanences volantes" and "Chèques-emploi" programmes to advocate for the rights of migrants and sans-papiers, who are employed in private households for the most part. The two HEKS/EPER programmes "Espace parents" in Neuchâtel and "BrückenbauerInnen" in Basel have also made adjustments so as to continue supporting families with children who have been severely affected by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.


Regrettably, there is still no end in sight to the pandemic. Through its nation-wide campaign to for collective solidarity (#Herdensolidarität), entitled "Sticking together while keeping a distance", and by means of a special adaptation of the "COVID-19" icon of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), which is known throughout Switzerland, HEKS/EPER is therefore appealing yet again to the Swiss population for a show of solidarity towards people in need around the world, whose livelihoods are in jeopardy from the virus and its consequences. 


to the Corona emergency aid

Samuel Berner
Head of Media and Information Department
Samuel Berner

Phone: +41 44 360 88 25
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70