The recent floods have cost many lives and devastated infrastructure and housing in Europe and Asia. In response, on 22 August the Swiss government approved a supplementary credit of SFr. 50 million on behalf of the flood victims. This money is earmarked for assistance through a package of efficient, targeted measures, and is also intended as a demonstration of solidarity. About 80% of the funds will be allocated in Europe, particularly Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia and Slovakia, while the remaining 20% will be used in Asia.
Based on its analyses of damage and requirements in Europe and Asia, the SDC will support emergency relief, reconstruction, and prevention measures over the next two years. This will be done in close cooperation with various offices in several federal departments, universities, Swiss NGOs, and private industry, as well as multilateral organisations, the EU, local Swiss representations and local officials in the flood-damaged regions. In Europe, with the receding of water levels, the priority is currently on clean-up work and damage analysis. Switzerland will provide specialists, know-how and material. In Asia, due to the continuing monsoon rains, further flooding and destruction must be expected. As such floods are a recurring phenomenon, assistance is channelled largely through existing links such as UN organisations, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Swiss embassies, SDC coordination offices, and several Swiss NGOs.
In Germany, the Czech Republic, and Russia, where most of the funds allocated for Europe will be used, assistance will be concentrated on direct financial support of the population, reconstruction of housing and necessary institutions, recovery of cultural assets and rapid repair of river courses. In Austria and Slovakia, Switzerland will provide financial help for reconstruction, rehabilitation programmes and prevention measures.
In Asia, the priority will be on emergency relief for flood victims. Priorities in reconstruction and prevention measures will be defined by ongoing situation and damage analyses. Measures will be implemented in cooperation with local SDC offices, bilateral and multilateral partners such as Red Cross societies, their Federation, the UN, etc., predominantly through financial contributions. Of the 13 countries currently affected in Asia, China, Nepal, India, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar are in line to receive about SFr. 10 million of the supplementary credit. Studies are also under way in other countries. The action programme will be constantly updated and refined in collaboration with other federal offices.
The SDC began providing emergency relief to victims in collaboration with the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports as soon as flooding started in the Czech Republic and Germany. Financial assistance was also provided to programmes in Asia. In addition, six members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, SHA, are now in Germany, the Czech Republic and Russia to implement emergency relief measures and clarify further needs with local officials. Currently, the SHA teams are supported by local specialists and individuals who will take over coordination and direction of the teams in the medium term. These rapid and targeted emergency relief measures, accompanied by assistance from members of the SHA, are meant to encourage people affected by the floods and provide a visible sign of international solidarity.
Further information: Barbara Hofmann, SDC spokesperson, Tel. 031 325 91 26 or 079 300 48 63