*First published in the NZ ‘Helvetia’ Magazine by Peter Ehrler, CSA representative from New Zealand.
There is a foundation administered by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) which helps eligible Swiss citizens living abroad in need of financial support after a natural disaster such as the Christchurch earthquake, the hurricane/tropical storms in Vanuatu and in Fiji.
The Schnyder von Wartensee Foundation
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) administers the Schnyder von Wartensee Foundation which provides aid to Swiss Abroad who are victims of natural disasters.
This Foundation was created in 1950 by Charles Schnyder von Wartensee, former Chairman of the Swiss National Bank, who had managed a fund of donations and public collections on behalf of Swiss disaster victims in the Center of France twenty years earlier on a voluntary basis.
The Foundation was set-up to give grants without security to help meet the needs of Swiss citizens living abroad who are victims of natural disasters. The main aim is to provide emergency relief and render the immediate aftermath of the disaster more bearable. This aid should be considered as a small contribution towards reconstruction.
Assistance from the Foundation is available to Swiss citizens living abroad who are registered with a Swiss embassy or consulate. Dual-nationals may also apply. This assistance is conceived as a gesture of solidarity to provide relief for Swiss abroad experiencing distressing living conditions following natural disasters. Under no circumstances does the Foundation function as an insurance company and can on no account finance the loss of earnings due to the loss of economic activity, nor re-establish economic activity.
However, if the latter is closely linked with the victims’ personal predicament, the Foundation will bear this in mind in its appreciation of the case.
How to apply
Natural disaster victims may apply for aid at the competent Swiss embassy or consulate in their place of residence no later than six months following the disaster. The case file should be as detailed as possible and contain the following specifications: a description of the damage, a financial estimation of the damage, the purpose of the aid requested, a description of present family status, a description of the financial situation, details of any assistance received from other organisations (public, private) and/or insurance cover, a declaration that the facts listed are exact, etc. The official Swiss representative will then forward the case file, as well as its opinion, to the Board at the Foundation for decision.
Canton Geneva has announced it can no longer afford to bear the cost of an e-voting system and plans to abandon the project, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. This leaves only one other e-voting project still standing in Switzerland run by Swiss Post.
Read the full Swissinfo report here
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
Saturday, 15 September saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the third time in Victoria. 15 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and therefore have become fully-fletched Swiss citizens with all the rights and obligations that this entails, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by their mums and dads, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
The Valais city of Visp hosted the 2018 Congress of the Swiss Abroad and assembly of the Council of the Swiss Abroad from August 10- 12. The social program included an excursion to the Ryffelberg-Gornergrat on the final day.
Members of the Council of the Swiss Abroad meeting in the town of Visp on Friday, 10 August approved plans to launch an online petition calling for the introduction of e-voting over the next three years. Oceania was represented at the meeting by Katja Wallimann Gates and Beat Knoblauch (pictured), Peter Ehrler and Peter Canziani.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes the Federal Council’s decision to commission the Federal Chancellery with the preparation of a project that makes e-voting a regular voting option. This decision represents a significant step forward in the introduction of e-voting and recognises it as a safe and reliable option. For Swiss Abroad, this e-voting is often the only way to exercise their political rights.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 13 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) representing the interests of 751,800 compatriots living abroad, is disappointed that the Council of States today rejected Motion 17.3626 by 30 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States has decided not to follow the majority of its Foreign Policy Commission (APK-S) and has rejected a motion calling on PostFinance to accept Swiss Abroad on similar terms as citizens residing in Switzerland. The problem that has existed for our compatriots living abroad for ten years remains unresolved.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 30 May 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is relieved that the Council of States has today decided to follow the recommendation of its Commission on Social Security and Health (SGK-S) to delete the amendment to Article 4 (1) in the context of the supplementary benefits reform. This means that the current rules remain in place. Last March, the National Council approved an application whereby Swiss Abroad would have had to pay social security contributions (AHV) for at least ten years in order to qualify for supplementary benefits, which would have discriminated against Swiss Abroad.
On 10 March 2018, at he CSA meeting in Bern, the executive of the OSA announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Geneva Cantonal Bank (BCGE).
More information is available under the topic Swiss Banks.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) would like to know about difficulties you have encountered in the area of health insurance and the practical problems that you face as a Swiss person living abroad. This may be of specific relevance to those living temporarily in the Oceania region or those in need for travel insurance when visiting Switzerland. By the same token, if you have had positive experiences or wish to share good practices, please do so!
The purpose is to look at ways of improving the situation of Swiss people living abroad in this regard.
You can send your experiences and suggestions to us delegates and/or directly to the head office in Bern: email@example.com
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biennial meeting at the town hall in Bern on 10 March 2018.
The meeting followed on an informal exchange with Swiss parliamentarians on Thursday afternoon where a first update on the political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad was given.
The Swiss Parliament voted for the Introduction of Automatic Exchange of Information with New Zealand. A summary and comments by Peter Ehrler, New Zealand Member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad.