*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.
A lot has happened lately with regards to e-voting. There has been growing resistance and a fair bit of scare-mongering in Switzerland regarding the introduction of e-voting. Whilst the advantages are obvious to the government and the Swiss Abroad, sceptics argue that the trust in the democratic process is compromised due to e-security uncertainty and the cost of developing a secure system is also a concern. Earlier this year, a broad alliance of political parties has been collecting signatures for a popular initiative. Their aim is to ban the introduction of e-voting for at least five years.
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biannual meeting at the town hall in Bern on 23 March 2019. For the second time, the meeting followed on an exchange with Swiss parliamentarians for an update on political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad.
From 13 April to 29 September 2019, the Swiss Abroad will be featured in the Swiss History Forum in Schwyz as part of the exhibition ‘Switzerland elsewhere’.
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.