Help for Swiss living abroad hit by a Natural Disaster

*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.