Humanitarian aid and development cooperation NGOs in Switzerland launched a campaign to call for an end to the country’s blocking of monetary transfers to NGOs citing sanctions.
“In today’s world where hunger and the spread of diseases can be prevented, it is a crime against humanity to wilfully withhold international solidarity aid from people in need,” the organisations said.
“Humanitarian and development aid are legally exempt from economic sanctions. Nevertheless, Swiss NGOs and solidarity associations have been increasingly hindered in money transfers for several years,” they said.
Kurdish Red Crescent Heyva Sor a Kurdistane’s Switzerland chapter, Centrale Sanitaire Suisse Romande, mediCuba-Suisse, Medico International Switzerland, Association for Medical Aid in Central America, Nicaragua-El Salvador Solidarity Association Geneva and the Switzerland Cuba Association are calling on Switzerland’s federal assembly and Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to “commit to Switzerland’s much-cited humanitarian tradition” and end obstructions.
Domestic and international transfers of funds should be allowed for humanitarian and solidarity organisations, and Swiss banks should adapt their business practices to comply with UN Security Resolution 2664 in providing exemptions from sanctions for humanitarian aid, the NGOs said.
They also demand that terms such as “Cuba”, “Iraq”, “Iran”, “Syria” or “Kurdistan” in transfer notes from private donors not trigger automatic blocks due to blacklisting.
“When a region and its people are hit by disasters, like Turkey and Syria were recently hit by devastating earthquakes, aid organisations have to be able to act quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles,” they said.
Economic sanctions often make it difficult to carry out aid work for civilians in parts of the world that are hit particularly hard by crises, instead of working to combat threats to international peace and security intended, they added.