Swiss Charity
Medair is a Swiss charity bringing resources and aid to the most vulnerable in the poorest countries. The charity specializes in providing emergency responses to countries experiencing natural disasters and outbreaks of war and disease. The organization focuses its aid on the most vulnerable populations of women and children in emergency outbreaks. Similar to various other aid charities, such as the Red Cross, Medair originated and holds its headquarters in Switzerland. One might wonder how Switzerland, a country that has received renown for having such a high GDP relative to its population size and for taking a neutral stance in world politics, offers such good conditions for philanthropy.

Medair’s Background 

Medair began in the Swiss canton of Vaud in 1989, inspired by the Christian values to serve the most vulnerable people regardless of race, creed or nationality. It cites its values as integrity, hope, compassion, joy, accountability, dignity and faith. Medair goes the extra mile to help those most affected by global emergencies who are also those most difficult to reach. They are ready to act within 24 hours of a disaster, before subsequently focusing on rebuilding and strengthening communities from future disasters. The Swiss charity Medair focuses on three aspects of aid including providing shelter, clean water and sanitation, health and nutrition. They employ experts in each sector to provide hands-on help.

On the Ground: Afghanistan

Since 1996, Medair has been providing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, Medair has provided 116,171 people with direct assistance.  Following 2021, Medair built 117 clean water access points and a solar-powered water point. Many Afghan families have struggled to feed themselves because of heavy displacement since the Taliban seized power, which has led to more than 1 million malnourished children in need of acute treatment. In response, Medair has been managing 29 mobile nutrition clinics over nearly 45 locations, and within eight months, almost 40,000 women and children received treatment for malnutrition.

Switzerland: Rated Second Best for Conditions that Enable Philanthropic Engagement

In the Global Philanthropy Environment Index 2022 which the University of Indiana conducted for 2018-2020, Switzerland received a rating for second-best for conditions that encourage the creation of philanthropic and charitable organizations.

It is clear from the number of Swiss humanitarian aid charities including the Red Cross, Caritas and of course Medair, that Switzerland promotes humanitarianism despite its neutral stance in global affairs. In housing one of the U.N.’s offices, and in hosting ‘good offices,’ mediating spaces where conflicting countries’ representatives can engage in peace-making meetings, Switzerland is a country that promotes peace-making. Moreover, in 2021, Switzerland spent 0.50% of its GNI on ODA, a 0.01% increase from the previous year. In relation to the country’s GDP, Switzerland received the rating of the eighth-most-giving country in 2018.

Concluding Thoughts 

Switzerland has received renown for a high GDP relative to population size, for a strong currency and for a general population with a high amount of wealth. It is refreshing to see such a wealthy country recognize its privilege, pay it forward and play its part in reducing global poverty by encouraging the formation of hands-on humanitarian aid charities, such as the Swiss charity Medair.

Genevieve Lewis
Photo: Flickr