Switzerland sends 26 tonnes of medical supplies to Thailand
COVID-19 has an impact on our lives in Switzerland and abroad. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) summarises the most important information regarding travelling and living abroad in its COVID-19 news ticker. The information is constantly being added to.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the handover ceremony of Swiss relief supplies to Thailand. © Thai Government
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The Federal Council recommends to avoid non-urgent trips abroad. Before travelling abroad, it is recommended that you obtain information from the foreign representations in Switzerland (embassies and consulates).
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Action by the Federal Council, Departments and Federal Offices
17.08.2021 – 17.00
"A multi-layered response to the Covid crisis"
At a press conference of federal experts, Manuel Bessler, Ambassador and Delegate of the Swiss Confederation for Humanitarian Aid, provided an overview of Switzerland's international cooperation response to the Covid-19 crisis. "It needs global approaches, it needs an international response," Manuel Bessler told the media. Switzerland's international cooperation works on two different levels:
At the multilateral level, Switzerland is, for example, very active as a donor in the WHO's COVAX Facility, whose main task is to create access to Covid vaccines for countries regardless of their purchasing power.
At the bilateral level, Switzerland responded on the one hand through humanitarian aid. "The Humanitarian Aid Unit has organised transports of relief supplies. It is a matter of supporting the countries concerned at their request. In concrete terms: respirators, oxygen concentrators and protective materials such as masks or overalls. And this mainly in the Asian region," Manuel Bessler explained and continued: "We started making such deliveries in May. Always in close cooperation with the recipient countries. Either it is the Ministry of Health, sometimes also the Red Cross with whom we cooperate. It is very important that we have contacts on site. Most of the time it is our embassy or our cooperation office, as for example in Mongolia, to make sure that the materials are distributed properly and used correctly. The aid supplies are organised by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid in cooperation with the FOPH and the army pharmacy, ensuring that the materials are not needed in Switzerland.
On the other hand, at the bilateral level, the SDC has also adapted its development cooperation programmes accordingly to the new reality of Covid-19. This means, for example, greater support for the local health sector or cushioning the consequences of the pandemic for people who have lost their jobs in the informal sector. Switzerland is thus providing "a multi-layered response to the Covid crisis", said Manuel Bessler
02.08.2021 – 11.00
Federal Councillor Cassis hands over medical supplies
In view of the worrying public health situation in Thailand, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has decided to support the country in its efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 2 July, a Swiss cargo aircraft carrying more than 26 tonnes of medical supplies left Zurich for Bangkok. The supplies were provided from the inventory of the Swiss Armed Forces Pharmacy and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). The shipment includes around nine million Swiss franc's worth of equipment, with the Swiss Armed Forces Pharmacy supplying 100 respirators and the FOPH providing more than a million antigen tests.
On 2 August, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis attended a ceremony to hand over to the Thai authorities a consignment of humanitarian supplies dispatched by Switzerland last week.
Switzerland's donation of approximately 100 respirators and over one million antigen test kits was made in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections in Thailand.
Covid-19: Swiss Humanitarian Aid support actions in 2021
- 250'000 medical masks
- 50 ventilators
- 600 oxygen concentrators
- Div. Covid aid supplies
Indian Red Cross
- 40 ventilators
- 10 oxygen concentrators
- Div. Covid aid supplies
- 50 ventilators
- 150 oxygen concentrators
- 600'000 antigen tests
- Div. Covid aid supplies
- 40 ventilators
- 45 oxygen concentrators
- Div. Covid aid supplies
- 15 ventilators
- 57 oxygen concentrators
- Div. Covid aid supplies
- 600 oxygen concentrators
- Div. personal protection equipment
- 102 ventilators
- 1'120'000 antigen tests
Source: Swiss Humanitarian Aid
In view of the precarious health situation in Tunisia and in response to the request for assistance from the Tunisian authorities, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has decided to support the country in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. A Swiss Air Transport Service aircraft took off for Tunis from Dübendorf on Friday, 16 July 2021. In addition to the 15 respirators provided free of charge by the Swiss Army Pharmacy, the cargo also includes around 60 oxygen concentrators.
This equipment is received in Tunis by the local authorities and then transported to the various locations. The Swiss representation in Tunisia is in close contact with the authorities to ensure that the relief supplies are distributed according to need.
The shipment of relief supplies on Friday, 16 July 2021, is already Switzerland's fifth delivery of relief supplies abroad within a few weeks.
- 12.07.2021: Mongolia (Media Release)
- 07.06.2021: Sri Lanka (Media Release)
- 21.05.2021: Nepal (Media Release)
- 06.05.2021: India (Media Release)
Switzerland is closely following the development of the global health situation in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is prepared to provide support within its means and in accordance with the requests addressed to it.
12.07.2021 – 14.30
Switzerland sends medical supplies to Mongolia
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Mongolia hard. To help the country cope with this difficult situation, Swiss Humanitarian Aid sent a relief flight to Ulan Bator on Monday, 12 July. On board were, among other things, 40 respirators and 45 oxygen concentrators with a total value of around CHF 850,000 (media release).
Mongolia is one of the priority countries of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In addition to the current delivery of relief supplies, the SDC has approved a contribution worth CHF 150,000 for the purchase of three X-ray machines for the Ministry of Health.
Monday's delivery to Mongolia is Switzerland's fourth humanitarian aid operation sent to Asia in the space of a few weeks. On 6 May 2021, Swiss Humanitarian Aid delivered 13 tonnes of relief supplies to India (media release), on 21 May around 30 tonnes of relief supplies to Nepal (media release) and most recently on 7 June 16 tonnes of relief materials to Sri Lanka (media release).
23.06.2021 – 14.00
Facilitated entry into Switzerland from Schengen countries
People entering from the Schengen area are no longer required to quarantine. The Federal Council took this decision at its meeting on 23 June 2021. As a result, the requirement to be tested now only applies to people arriving by plane who are unvaccinated or have not recovered from COVID-19. People arriving by plane will still be required to provide their contact details. In addition, Switzerland is easing the existing entry restrictions for people arriving from third countries who can prove they have been vaccinated. The list of countries issued by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has been amended accordingly. Third-country nationals are once again permitted to enter Switzerland from countries such as the US, Albania and Serbia.
COVID-19: Switzerland supports Sri Lanka, Nepal and India with humanitarian aid
On 7 June 2021, Switzerland sent humanitarian aid supplies to Sri Lanka. An aircraft heading for Colombo took off from Zurich airport late on Friday afternoon. On board were around half a million antigen tests, 50 ventilators, 150 oxygen concentrators and medical examination material. The delivery of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit was in response to a request for assistance from the Sri Lankan authorities (media release).
In recent weeks, Switzerland has already provided relief supplies to help Asian countries cope with the COVID-19 crisis: On 6 May 2021, Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is part of the FDFA, delivered 13 tonnes of relief supplies to India (media release), and on 21 May 2021 around 30 tonnes of relief supplies were sent to Nepal (media release). According to Swiss Ambassador Elisabeth von Capeller, Nepal has shown how important it is for development cooperation to be able to react quickly to a crisis such as COVID-19 (interview).
28.05.2021 – 16.00
Trips abroad: new recommendation in effect from 31 May 2021
In view of the summer holidays, the Federal Council is adjusting the Confederation's travel recommendations. From 31 May 2021, travellers are advised not to travel to countries and territories with a variant of concern. The Federal Office of Public Health FOPH publishes a list of these countries and territories (section 2). Travellers should however be aware that there is still a risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 throughout the world and that the epidemiological situation can change at any time, including while travelling abroad.
The FOPH's COVID-19 related measures, including the quarantine requirement for persons entering Switzerland from high-risk countries, are still in effect. Protection measures and entry regulations to stem the spread of COVID-19 are also in place in many foreign travel destinations. Because hospitals are operating near or at full capacity as a result of the pandemic, in many countries there is no guarantee of prompt medical care. The FDFA can provide consular assistance abroad in the event of an emergency. However, the FDFA will not organise another repatriation operation like the Flying Home operation it carried out in spring 2020.
Careful planning and flexibility are therefore essential to reduce the likelihood of an unwelcome COVID-19 surprise during your summer holidays. Foreign representations in Switzerland provide information on currently applicable measures and entry requirements in their respective countries. The FDFA's travel advice provides information on the security situation abroad. Register your trip abroad with the FDFA's Travel Admin app.
28.04.2021 – 13.00
Switzerland is contributing CHF 300 million to global health protection
The Federal Council is committed to ensuring equitable access to vaccines, tests and medicines worldwide in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic sustainably. Accordingly, it decided at its meeting of 28 April 2021 to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative with CHF 300 million. This initiative aims to improve access to immunization, testing and medication in developing countries and bolster local healthcare systems. Switzerland considers it important to coordinate with international partners and work together to ensure that the virus is contained around the world. Switzerland therefore already supported ACT-A last year, with CHF 75 million.
23.12.2020 – 15.00
Exemption for flights between Switzerland, the United Kingdom and South Africa
Persons resident in the UK and South Africa currently in Switzerland, and persons resident in Switzerland currently in those two countries, will be able to return home from 24 December. The existing protective measures and quarantine rules apply.
Flights between Switzerland, the UK and South Africa have been suspended from midnight on Sunday (20.12.2020). With a view to Christmas, the federal government has developed a plan to allow persons resident in the UK and South Africa to return home as of 24 December 2020. Departure from and entry into Switzerland will regulate as follows: The Federal Office of Civil Aviation FOCA will grant airlines exceptional permits for flights to Switzerland on a case-by-case basis.
The airlines are responsible for ensuring that only persons belonging to one of these categories are carried. They must inform passengers in an appropriate manner that the Swiss quarantine rules must be complied with after arrival.
Departures to the UK and South Africa
Flights departing from Switzerland are generally intended to enable persons resident in the UK or South Africa currently in Switzerland to return home. The travel advice issued by the FDFA remains valid. Special protective measures apply to persons currently in quarantine. They will be kept apart from other travellers on the journey to the airport to minimise the epidemiological risk (see also FOCA’s press release).
The FDFA is not responsible for organising travel. Any costs incurred are to be borne by the passengers themselves. The FDFA does not organise repatriation in this context.
Important information for flight passengers via Travel Admin app
The Travel Admin app is a useful tool that travellers can use to register their journey, current location and contact details, which they can share with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA in case of emergency. All Swiss citizens currently in the UK or South Africa are requested to register their journey and their current location using the Travel Admin app → under ‘My journeys’. That way, the FDFA can send registered app users useful information if necessary. This is not possible if only a user profile has been created. It is worth noting that it is not possible to contact all travellers personally.
21.12.2020 – 12.00
Entry ban for people travelling from Great Britain and South Africa
Following the outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus, which according to initial findings is significantly more infectious than the known strain; the Federal Council has issued an entry ban for people travelling from Great Britain and South Africa. In addition, people who entered Switzerland from these two countries after 14 December 2020 will have to go into quarantine for a ten-day period.
In order to prevent further spread of the new strain of the virus, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) had already suspended air traffic connections between Switzerland and Great Britain and South Africa on Sunday evening until further notice. The affected airports, airlines as well as business aviation were informed of the emergency measure.
With the entry ban adopted by the Federal Council, especially tourist travel from Great Britain and South Africa is barred. A temporary derogation from the flight ban is being considered for persons resident in the UK or South Africa currently staying in Switzerland so that they may return home. That is also the case for persons resident in Switzerland currently staying in those two countries. However, it is imperative that such return journeys do not lead to infections.
The Federal Council also decided to withdraw freedom of movement privileges from persons resident in the UK until 31 December. Persons from the UK are therefore subject to a general ban on entering Switzerland. Freedom of movement privileges for British citizens were due to expire at the end of the year anyway.
Speaking at a media conference in Bern on Monday afternoon, the head of the Crisis Management Centre (CMC) of the FDFA, Hans-Peter Lenz, said that the FDFA is currently in the process of obtaining an overview of blocked Swiss citizens and foreign nationals residing in Switzerland. The FDFA remains in close contact with the two representations in Pretoria and London. Hans-Peter Lenz emphasised that Switzerland will not carry out a new repatriation operation as it did in March or April, as the current situation was to a certain extent foreseeable. "However, also in accordance with the mandate of the Federal Council, we will examine together with the agencies involved to what extent we can facilitate commercial flights that can then bring back these blocked passengers," said the head of the CMC.
Questions and answers about the topic
Who is concerned?
The Federal Council has decided to impose entry bans on all foreign nationals coming from the UK or South Africa. These entry restrictions apply to stays of less than 3 months without a permit. This applies in particular to travel to Switzerland for tourism purposes. The measure applies from 1pm on Monday, 21 December.
Holders of a Swiss residence permit are not affected by the entry ban. If they are able to travel to Switzerland, they may continue to do so.
Nationals from the UK and South Africa who are already in the Schengen area may continue to enter Switzerland. The measure is not aimed at persons on the basis of nationality, but on the basis of where they started their journey.
Please note that persons who are entitled and able to enter Switzerland must comply with the applicable quarantine regulations. Information on quarantine can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH.
Does this mean that I (a Swiss resident) can no longer return to Switzerland from Great Britain or South Africa?
For people residing in Great Britain or South Africa who are currently staying in Switzerland, an arrangement for exemption from the flight ban for the journey home is being considered. The same applies to people living in Switzerland who are currently staying in the two respective countries. However, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the risk of infection during these return journeys remains minimal.
What do I have to do if I am currently staying in Great Britain or South Africa?
We ask all Swiss citizens who are currently staying in Great Britain or South Africa to register their journey and current whereabouts via the app "Travel Admin" → section "My travels". This enables the FDFA to send specific and useful information to registered people, if necessary. This is not possible if only a user profile is created. Personal contact with all travelers on an individual level is not possible.
Yesterday, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) suspended air traffic connections between Switzerland and the UK and South Africa. How did the FOCA proceed?
The FOCA was already in contact with various federal offices yesterday during the day. After the decision was made, foreign air safety authorities, airlines and the air navigation service providers were officially informed and a so-called NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) was issued. This makes pilots aware of these new restrictions.
Why did this happen so quickly?
The suspension of air traffic to and from Great Britain and South Africa was an immediate measure to minimize a possible spread of the new virus variant. As it was the case with the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, we knew exactly what steps needed to be taken. Basically, it is always easier to restrict flight operations than to start them up again.
Until when do these flight restrictions apply?
For the time being, the restrictions will apply until 28.01.2021. Depending on the epidemiological situation, these restrictions may be temporally extended or even extended to other countries by order of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
Instead of direct flights, can't airline passengers also reach Switzerland via detours, e.g. via Germany?
As of today, the Federal Council has decided on a fundamental entry ban for all foreigners who want to enter Switzerland from Great Britain and South Africa, even via detours via third countries. In this respect, we ask affected airline passengers to stay at home. The Swiss Confederation is currently examining possibilities of a repatriation for affected Swiss nationals, English and South Africans.
For whom and from when do the quarantine regulations enacted on 21 December 2020 apply?
All persons who have entered Switzerland from the United Kingdom or South Africa since 14 December 2020 must go into quarantine for 10 days. The quarantine applies from the time of entry.
Why do people arriving from these two countries need to go into quarantine?
Based on current information, the new coronavirus variant has mostly been detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa. People arriving from these two countries must therefore go into quarantine.
Why does the quarantine apply retroactively to 14 December?
People who have entered Switzerland since 14 December from these countries may still be infectious, or may still become infectious. This is why they must go into quarantine.
Do children also need to go into quarantine?
Yes. Children also need to go into quarantine. Their parents are responsible for looking after them.
What should people who have arrived from these countries and who have been placed in quarantine do now?
At the beginning of the quarantine, every person who is required to quarantine must report their entry into Switzerland to the competent cantonal authority within two days and follow the instructions issued by the relevant authority.
Whom can quarantined people contact for more information?
They can contact the competent cantonal authority.
Are there sanctions if people fail to comply with the mandatory quarantine?
If someone fails to comply with the mandatory quarantine, this is a contravention under Article 83 of the Epidemics Act that is punishable by a fine of up to CHF 10,000 (para. 1 let. h), or if due to negligence, with a fine of up to CHF 5,000. The cantons are responsible for criminal prosecution.
Can you leave your house to go for a walk, get some fresh air or run errands during the quarantine period?
No. The purpose of quarantine is to break chains of infection. Any physical contact with other people must be avoided. That doesn’t mean, however, that social contact is forbidden. Contact by phone or Skype is permitted.
What should I do if I develop symptoms during the 10-day quarantine?
If you develop symptoms, it is important you inform the competent cantonal authority immediately. They will then decide what to do next, for example carry out a test.
The quarantine lasts 10 days. Where should people go whose stay should actually be over and who therefore no longer have accommodation?
It can be assumed that anyone who has entered Switzerland for a stay has accommodation arranged. In the case of visitors whose stay in accommodation has come to an end, visitors and accommodation providers must try to find a mutual solution if possible. Otherwise, the competent cantonal authority must provide accommodation so that the quarantine can be complied with.
Who is responsible for monitoring compliance with the quarantine?
The cantonal authorities are responsible for ensuring compliance with the quarantine measures and for providing quarantined people with the support and information they need.
15.12.2020 – Switzerland assists Greece in coping with the coronavirus health crisis
Greece is being put to the test with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this country with more than 120,000 migrants or refugees, there is a great risk that the national health system will be overburdened. The fire in the Moria camp at the beginning of December showed that the situation can quickly degenerate. To strengthen the capacity of the national health care system and protect the most vulnerable, Switzerland and Greece have developed a project dedicated to fighting COVID-19 in the island regions with the largest migrant and refugee populations.
In this framework, Switzerland will provide medical equipment and support training campaigns for tracing contact cases. Several actions are planned in December and January. 800 COVID tests were distributed in a reception centre for underage migrants in Athens at the beginning of the month. On 15 December, two mobile containers for medical care as well as two cars for the care of patients were handed over in Athens. Until the end of January, medical equipment will be handed over to the main hospital on the island of Lesbos, including blood transfusion equipment, blood analysis machines, etc.
At the request of the Greek authorities, this project was initiated by the Swiss embassy in Athens, in conjunction with the medical school of the University of Athens and the hospital in Lesbos. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is supporting the project with approximately CHF 700,000. Switzerland also makes financial contributions to the COVID-19 programmes of Médecins du Monde and the Greek Red Cross for the benefit of migrants and the local population. Switzerland has been supporting Greece in several fields – asylum and migration, health, humanitarian aid – since 2015. Greece and Lesbos have been facing enormous challenges for more than five years, and Switzerland intends to provide sustainable aid.
30.10.2020 – 11.00
Following the repatriation campaign in March and April 2020 for Swiss and foreign travellers who were unable to return to their home countries because of the coronavirus pandemic, the FDFA set flat-rate amounts for travel costs and sent invoices to those who were repatriated. At present about 600 invoices are still outstanding.
A reminder has already been issued to all those defaulting on payment. The FDFA reserves the right to activate diplomatic channels for persons living abroad. All reminders sent to persons residing in Switzerland which remain unanswered will be referred by the FDFA to the Central Collection Office at the Federal Department of Finance for further processing and the collection of the debt.
The flat-rate costs for the repatriation flights were based on the length of the flight. The FDFA had clearly communicated the amounts payable by passengers from the outset, with passengers having to agree to pay this amount before they were allowed to avail themselves of the flight.
09.09.2020 – 10.00
In March and April of this year, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) launched an unprecedented repatriation operation following the coronavirus pandemic. In the course of this operation, 7311 travellers, including some 4100 Swiss passengers stranded abroad, were repatriated to Switzerland. The Swiss government had decided to pre-finance the flights in order to ensure the fastest possible repatriation. It was always communicated clearly that and how the special repatriation flights would be charged. In recent months, the FDFA has sent out invoices for this predefined expense contribution. To date, 76 per cent of the invoices have been paid, 16 per cent are still outstanding, 7 per cent are paid in instalments and one per cent are currently being processed. The most important questions and answers regarding the invoicing of repatriation flights are summarised below (update entry dated 25 August 2020).
Questions and answers about the topic
How many invoices has the FDFA sent out?
The FDFA's repatriation operation last March and April enabled 7,311 people to return to Switzerland, including some 4,111 Swiss nationals who had been stranded abroad as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As agreed, the Swiss government subsequently invoiced passengers for their share of the costs. Around 7,100 invoices were sent to passengers living in Switzerland and abroad.
Why do the passengers on repatriation flights have to contribute to the costs?
On 22 March 2020, the FDFA launched an unprecedented retrieval operation in response to the COVID 19 crisis. The aim was to bring back Swiss travellers stranded abroad. The Confederation pre-financed the costs of these repatriation flights. The costs amount to around 10 million Swiss francs. From the very beginning, the FDFA has publicly communicated that the blocked travellers must contribute to the costs of the repatriation flights. In addition, all passengers have signed a declaration of consent to contribute to the costs before the flight. This is intended to prevent blocked travellers who have returned with the support of the FDFA from being treated more favourably than people who have organised their return journey themselves.
How many of the invoices are still outstanding?
Of the 7,181 invoices sent to passengers, around 1,100 are now overdue. The FDFA has sent out payment reminders over the past few weeks.
What happens if the invoices are not paid?
The FDFA sends reminders for unpaid invoices. If a payment demand is not met, the FDFA reserves the right to commence debt recovery proceedings.
What happens if passengers living outside Switzerland do not pay their invoice?
Outstanding payments from non-residents could be claimed under one of the various international processes in place, such as letters of request. Switzerland maintains close relations with the relevant local authorities through its representations abroad.
How were the costs for the repatriation flights calculated?
The FDFA decided to apply a flat-rate fare based on the flight distance. Other European countries took the same approach. Many locations around the world were no longer accessible at the time because of closed borders and airports. In such an extraordinary situation, ticket prices cannot be compared with the fares normally available. The flight services used by the FDFA were chartered at the standard rates in the circumstances. These prices were then taken as the basis for calculating the passengers' share of the costs:
- CHF 400 for short-haul flights (up to 1,500km)
- CHF 600 for medium-haul flights (up to 3,500km)
- CHF 1,100 for long-haul flights (up to 12,000km)
- CHF 1,700 for flights over 12,000km
This cost-sharing arrangement covered around 80% of the actual flight costs. The FDFA is paying the remaining 20%.
25.08.2020 – 13.00
Over the past weeks and months, the FDFA has sent out invoices for the flights organised as part of its repatriation operation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the invoices are not paid, the FDFA sends reminders. But how can it actually claim outstanding payments, in Switzerland or abroad?
Questions and answers about the topic
How many invoices has the FDFA sent out?
The FDFA's repatriation operation last March and April enabled 7,255 people to return to Switzerland, including some 4,111 Swiss nationals who had been stranded abroad as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As agreed, the Swiss government subsequently invoiced passengers for their share of the costs. Around 7,100 invoices were sent to passengers living in Switzerland and abroad.
How many of the invoices are still outstanding?
Of the 7,132 invoices sent to passengers, around 1,500 are now overdue. The FDFA has sent out payment reminders over the past few weeks.
#flyinghome: largest repatriation operation in the history of Switzerland
The FDFA organised 35 repatriation flights, bringing some 4,200 Swiss travellers back to Switzerland from all continents. For more about the largest repatriation operation in Swiss history, see the overview online and the video.
19.08.2020 – 15.00
Of the 7,100 invoices sent out for cost participation in the FDFA's retrieval campaign, which the Federal Government has sent to passengers from Switzerland and abroad (cf. news article from 14.08.2020, 10 a.m.), around 1,500 payments are currently in delay. This and last week the FDFA has sent reminders for the outstanding invoices.
14.08.2020 – 10.00
In June, July and August the FDFA sent out its invoices for the return flights organised as part of its repatriation operation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers had been informed that they would be required to contribute to the cost. The FDFA will issue reminders for any unpaid invoices.
7,255 travellers, including around 4,200 Swiss citizens, who had been stranded abroad on account of the COVID-19 pandemic were flown to Switzerland by the FDFA last March and April as part of its repatriation operation.
As planned, the Swiss government subsequently sent passengers the invoices for their contribution to the cost of repatriation. In total, around 7,100 invoices were issued to Swiss and other passengers. The invoices were sent in batches since 11 June and will continue in August, with many of them – over 1,000 invoices – sent out at the end of this period. The invoices are payable within 30 days.
Before embarking, passengers were clearly informed of their obligation to contribute to the travel costs – although the exact amount was yet not known at the time, given the extraordinary circumstances and the fact that the flights had to be organised at such short notice.
The FDFA would like to point out that reminders will be sent for unpaid invoices. Depending on the situation, the FDFA will initiate recovery proceedings in the event of non-payment of invoices.
04.08.2020 – 19.00
Restrictions on entry to the cantons of Valais and Vaud for Belgian citizens have been lifted
Belgian citizens can again travel to the cantons of Valais and Vaud without restrictions. Due to an allegedly high risk of infection, the Belgian authorities had classified the cantons of Valais, Vaud and Geneva as "catégorie rouge" as of August 1, 2020. As a result, Belgian citizens were prohibited from compulsory residence in these three cantons. On Monday, Federal Councillor Cassis spoke on the phone with his Belgian counterpart Philippe Goffin and asked him to review this assessment. Among other things, he emphasised that there were major differences between the cantons with regard to the impact of the pandemic.
As agreed by Foreign Minister Goffin, the Belgian authority responsible (Cellule d'évaluation belge, CELEVAL) reviewed the classification on Tuesday: The cantons of Valais and Vaud are now no longer listed in the "catégorie rouge". This was announced today by Foreign Minister Goffin to Federal Councillor Cassis over the phone. As a result, Belgian citizens will be able to travel to and stay in the cantons of Valais and Vaud again, regardless of any "compelling reason".
06.07.2020 – 11.00
Quarantine regulations and mask obligation in public transport
The coronavirus crisis is not over yet, even though we are trying to return to a certain normality, some measures have been eased and the first borders have reopened. As a result, Switzerland is constantly adapting its entry regulations to the current epidemiological situation.
Quarantine regulations for certain countries
Since the middle of June, there has been a repeated increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Switzerland after infected persons entered the country. As of 6 July 2020, all persons entering Switzerland from a country or area with a high risk of infection must remain in quarantine for ten days. A continuously updated list of affected countries can be found at any time on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH.
Mandatory masks in public transport
As of 6 July 2020, masks will also be mandatory in public transport in Switzerland. Please observe the rules of conduct and hygiene applicable in Switzerland. In public places such as restaurants, shops or museums, you must follow the regulations of the respective protection concepts of the establishments. Information is available on site.
International travel under the responsibility of the traveller
Due to the global pandemic response, planning international travel is more complex than before. Entry regulations differ from country to country. Some countries still keep their borders closed to travellers. Others are gradually opening them up, subject to conditions: mandatory quarantine, self-monitoring of health status or presentation of a negative COVID 19 test. Entry regulations can change very quickly due to epidemic developments.
Before travelling abroad, travellers should inform themselves about the pandemic situation at their destination. They should also know the rules for returning to Switzerland. The planning, organisation and execution of a trip is the responsibility of each and every individual. You will find the most important tips on travel in the current period in the news article "Reopening of EU/EFTA/UK borders: 5 travel tips".
23.06.2020 – 17.30
Call to Action and Global Monitoring Report on Education: SDC commits to quality education
The Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the challenge of a collective commitment to quality education everywhere and for all. As a major health crisis, it destabilizes education systems in many countries. Schools have closed down massively, leaving some 1.6 billion learners in difficult circumstances. In countries already in crisis before the virus arrived, the toll is even heavier. Crises, be they economic, political, social, health or natural, have a devastating effect on education systems. Millions of children, especially vulnerable ones, refugee and migrant children, are left without education because of school closures. This disruption is likely to have negative effects on their future prospects, health and protection. There is an rising risk of increased school drop-out, child labour, sexual violence – progress in education and UN program SDG4 made in recent years is at risk. Switzerland is committed to limiting the impact of crises on education. In this period of COVID-19, together with partner organisations, it has launched a call for action addressed to the international community and aimed at strengthening education in emergency situations. (Read more).
Switzerland has long been committed to the universal mandate of quality education for all. Already because it is a fundamental human right. But also because it is the fourth objective of Agenda 2030 that the UN has set for the international community, including Switzerland. Switzerland participates in the development of global conventions, initiatives, reports and processes through intensive multilateral cooperation. The Global Monitoring Report on Education, prepared by UNESCO with the support of Switzerland, is one of the indicators for monitoring global progress. The 2020 edition, released on Tuesday, reminds countries to focus on those who are being left behind and to make progress towards inclusion in education in order to achieve Goal 4. (Read more).
19.06.2020 – 18.00
FDFA ensures the continuity of Swiss foreign offices
In order for Switzerland to be able to protect its interests abroad and to be accessible to Swiss nationals living or staying abroad, it needs a functioning external network. In dealing with the COVID 19 crisis, it has been shown that such a network is worthwhile. For example, under the direction of the FDFA headquarters in Bern, the Swiss representations abroad have carried out the FDFA's recall operation. This made it possible to bring more than 7000 people back to Switzerland, including 4200 Swiss travellers who were stuck abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic, were returned to Switzerland.
An important factor in ensuring that the Swiss representations abroad remain capable of acting is the regular transfer of staff and ensuring their continued viability, particularly in contexts where health care and the security situation cannot be guaranteed due to COVID-19. The Swiss offices are therefore always staffed to fulfil their roles and provide services. In addition, the FDFA, as an employer, wishes to guarantee its duty of care.
Many Swiss representations in difficult contexts abroad cannot be reached by commercial means
However, the consequences of COVID-19 make it more difficult to carry out the transfers and other important personnel relocations. Although airlines are once again selling tickets, flights are still cancelled due to lack of demand and regulatory requirements.
Since the fleet of the Federal Air Transport Service (LTDB) has free capacity due to the COVID-19 situation, the FDFA is using this capacity to carry out important staff transfers which cannot be met by commercial means.
To ensure that any flights can be carried out efficiently and to keep costs low, LTDB aircraft make stopovers at various destinations wherever possible.
08.06.2020 – 17.00
The FDFA initiates and supports commercial return flights for Swiss travellers
Approximately 7000 travellers (including some 4200 Swiss travellers) that had been blocked abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic were brought back to Switzerland by the FDFA as part of its recall operation in March and April 2020. The last of 35 charter flights organized by the FDFA was a flight from Accra (Ghana) to Zurich with stops in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) on 29 April 2020. This major recall operation has now been completed. Since then, the FDFA has been providing support and consular protection within the scope of its possibilities to Swiss travellers who were unable to return and whose situation is difficult, as well as to Swiss nationals abroad.
This assistance also includes - despite continuing travel restrictions - the further search for return travel options. For instance, the Swiss representations abroad try to find free seats for Swiss nationals on the few special flights from other countries that are still taking place. Where the number of passengers stranded makes a commercial flight possible, the FDFA is in contact with the Swiss airlines Swiss and Edelweiss.
Such flights are operated by Swiss and Edelweiss, which are also responsible for booking and ticketing. The FDFA will identify and reserve the necessary contingent on the plane for Swiss passengers returning home and will provide assistance in the form of an extraordinary measure with a deficit guarantee if the total number of tickets sold does not fully cover the cost of a flight. The FDFA also provides assistance to airlines in obtaining the necessary landing and take-off permits (diplomatic clearance).
Airplane from Casablanca brings passengers to Switzerland
On June 8, 2020, an aircraft from Morocco arrived in Zurich as part of such a flight. On board were 102 Swiss passengers and 67 passengers from other countries. Further flights are not ruled out, should enough Swiss travellers wish to return to Switzerland at one destination so that Swiss or Edelweiss is able to operate a commercial flight. Swiss travellers willing to return and foreign tourists resident in Switzerland are given priority by the airlines for these flights.
05.06.2020 – 16 Uhr
Switzerland opens the border to all EU/EFTA states on the June 15
At the end of May 2020, the Federal Council decided that the Swiss border with Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland would be fully reopened on June 15, 2020. Due to the current epidemiological situation, the restrictions on entering Switzerland from the other EU/EFTA states and the United Kingdom can also be lifted on that date.
Between Switzerland, Austria and Germany, the travel restrictions were already eased on May 16, 2020. Entry into Switzerland from all other EU/EFTA states will only be permitted in special cases until June 15.
28.05.2020 – 16.00
Switzerland's borders with Germany, France and Austria are open again as of June 15, 2020
As of June 15, 2020, the borders between Switzerland and its neighbouring countries will be open again: At its meeting on the 27th of May 2020, the Federal Council decided that the freedom to travel and the free movement of people between Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland will be fully restored as of this date.
Italy declared the lifting of internal border checks with its neighbours with effect from 3 June. Switzerland has informed Italy that in its view it is too early to lift border controls with Italy on that date. The Federal Council intends to coordinate that step with Italy, as well as possible health checks at the border with Italy and other neighbouring countries to Italy in the coming weeks. In doing so, the Federal Council will involve the border cantons, in particular Ticino, in these measures.
The FDFA has updated the focus on corona in its travel information (link). In this update Swiss citizens are urged to follow the instructions and recommendations of the countries to which they travel abroad. Even though entry regulations have been either relaxed or lifted in many countries, measures can still be taken within the country to contain the spread of the new corona virus.
The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) provides information on health aspects. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides reports on the countries affected by the virus.
28.05.2020 – 11.00
Switzerland supports UN funds to help developing countries with social and economic reconstruction
On 31 March 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). The fund is a financial instrument of the UN development system to help the world's poorest population groups in low-income developing countries. It supports the medium-term efforts of these countries in their social and economic reconstruction.
The fund is set up for a period of two years and is expected to require a budget of USD 2 billion. Switzerland supports the Fund with a contribution of CHF 8 million. Switzerland will also play an active role in the Fund's governing body. With this contribution, Switzerland is expressing its solidarity with people in developing countries who were especially hit hard by COVID-19.
As an instrument of the UN development system, the Fund complements the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) and the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. These cover the immediate humanitarian and sanitation needs.
23.05.2020 – 13.00
Swiss students are returning to Switzerland - thanks to their own initiative and the support of the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest
On Saturday, 23 May 2020, several students from Switzerland and France were able to return to their home countries. This despite the fact that it is currently difficult to leave Romania by direct flight due to the global COVID pandemic. The return flight was organised by the students themselves. The Swiss Embassy in Bucharest supported this initiative and was able to rely on its long-standing cooperation with the local authorities.
The return flight was launched by an association of French-speaking medical students from the universities of Cluj and Iasi. Together with a travel agency, they were able to organise a special flight for students from Switzerland and France to leave the country. However, due to the local COVID emergency ordinance, flights to Romania require written support from the destination country in addition to the usual flight permit.
The Swiss Embassy was therefore in close contact with the students and supported them in developing their private initiative for a return flight. The Swiss Embassy in Bucharest also coordinated the special permit with the Romanian crisis management team.
In light of the fact that the special flight could not have been fully occupied by the francophone students, other Swiss nationals were offered the opportunity to leave the country as well.
Due to the good cooperation of all persons involved and the local authorities, the plane with 125 people on board, including 10 Swiss nationals, was finally able to leave Romania for Basel. The support of the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest has no cost consequences for Switzerland. The special flight was privately financed.
13.05.2020 – 11.00
Switzerland responds to humanitarian needs and supports the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines
At its meeting of 13 May 2020, the Federal Council approved the allocation of CHF 175 million for the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will be used for humanitarian aid, the development and production of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and efforts aimed at ensuring equitable access to these medical solutions worldwide. The CHF 175 million is part of a CHF 400 million package approved by the Federal Council two weeks ago.
On 29 April 2020, the Federal Council approved CHF 400 million in support of international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds are intended to support people in poverty and need, especially in developing countries. Switzerland accordingly decided to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with a CHF 200 million interest-free loan and to contribute CHF 25 million to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) rapid credit facility. At its meeting of 13 May 2020, the Federal Council decided on the use of the remaining CHF 175 million.
Focus on humanitarian aid, innovation and health
Of this CHF 175 million, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has already allocated CHF 52 million, including contributions to the UN and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as well as bilateral aid consisting of relief supplies and other assistance in humanitarian crisis regions. Switzerland has also provided the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations with CHF 10 million for research into a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.
At its meeting earlier today, the Federal Council also decided to support additional initiatives:
- CHF 60 million has been earmarked for the development and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Half of these funds will go Gavi, a Geneva-based alliance specialising in vaccine supply in developing countries. The other half will go to the Wellcome Trust and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which promote access to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics in developing countries.
- CHF 50.5 million will be used to meet the growing need for humanitarian aid worldwide – both in response to emergency appeals by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the UN and for bilateral aid.
- Switzerland is also providing CHF 2.5 million to the World Health Organization's efforts to coordinate the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is in Switzerland's interests to ensure a strong international response to this pandemic, which knows no borders. This Federal Council decision also responds to a motion put forward by the National Council Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a CHF 100 million increase in humanitarian aid credits for 2020.
As a result of the current situation, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) will be able to save about CHF 20 million by the end of the year. This money will be spent on humanitarian aid provided as part of efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developing countries particularly at risk
COVID-19 is not only affecting people's health, but also economic and social life. It is hitting developing countries especially hard: many of them do not have a functioning healthcare system, and their populations do not have savings, regulated working conditions or a stable social security system to protect them against the loss of their livelihoods. Loss of livelihood leads to an increased risk of unrest, forced displacement and irregular migration. It is therefore very much in Switzerland's interests to provide rapid and unbureaucratic assistance to people in poverty and need. As the host state of a large number of international organisations based in Geneva, Switzerland is well equipped to make a major contribution to international efforts to mitigate the impact of this global pandemic.
11.05.2020 – 14.00
Return from Uzbekistan thanks to the cooperation of foreign embassies - and social media
Last week, the embassy in Tashkent received feedback from a Swiss citizen who had been evacuated and has now returned home. The process of getting home had been particularly complicated for him.
The Swiss citizen belonged to a small group of Europeans from various countries who were stranded in Uzbekistan and who last week had the opportunity to leave via neighbouring Tajikistan. Delegates from the European Union Representation in Tashkent compiled a list of those wishing to leave, a European embassy in Dushanbe ensured contact with the Tajik authorities, another embassy in Tashkent organised the transport to the Uzbek-Tajik border, where the group was finally met by a minibus from the Tajik Foreign Ministry and taken directly to Dushanbe airport. This was despite the fact that the border was in principle closed to travellers and despite the strict quarantine regulations that are applied in the few exceptions that are still possible.
Social Media Group with the Deputy Prime Minister
"These evacuations would not be possible without intensive cooperation between all those involved," says Ambassador Olivier Chave. "Neither would they be possible without the use of social media." For example, there is a group on Telegram with the Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Abukhakhimov and the ambassadors based in Tashkent. "This telegram group has become one of the most important communication platforms during the crisis," says Olivier Chave.
Switzerland supported Norwegian citizen
The importance of cooperation and social media had already been demonstrated during the evacuation of over one hundred European travellers at the end of March. These included eight Swiss nationals, one Frenchwoman and three Uzbek nationals permanently resident in Switzerland.
Since the flight was organized by Uzbekistan Airways, all passengers had to be registered with a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, not all countries of origin of the stranded passengers have a representation in Tashkent, therefore it had to be agreed first which county would take care of which of the stranded passengers (in this context, Switzerland “adopted” a Norwegian).
At the same time, the European embassies kept each other informed about the planned departure date, which was postponed several times. In the meantime, it was also important to reassure stranded fellow countrymen that the embassy was still in close contact with the authorities and would do everything possible to enable them to leave the country as soon as possible.
Finally, the Consulate General in Munich also played an important role, where the aircraft finally landed. The arriving passengers had to be looked after and their onward journey to Switzerland had to be organised.
It was all the greater relief for those involved when everyone was finally back home.
07.05.2020 – 14.00
Swiss Embassy in Moscow allows Russian children with rare form of eye cancer to travel to treatment in Lausanne
Five children were able to travel with their mothers from Russia to Switzerland on 6 May 2020 to be treated for eye cancer in Lausanne. Tomorrow another five children will land in Geneva and travel on to the specialised clinic in Lausanne. The clinic is the only clinic where this rare form of eye cancer can be treated without harming the vision.
The Swiss embassy in Moscow made the trip to Lausanne possible. Despite the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was able to arrange the flights to Geneva. Staff of the FDFA in Geneva and the DDPS ensured the onward journey from Geneva to Lausanne. A private sponsor paid for the travel costs.
At the beginning of April, the Swiss Embassy had already supported a Russian boy suffering from this rare form of eye cancer with his trip to Lausanne. There he could then be treated in the special clinic. Until the resumption of commercial flights, the Swiss Embassy in Moscow wants to enable further trips to Lausanne by Russian children affected by the eye disease, for example in June and July 2020. Private sponsors have already agreed to bear the costs of these trips.
06.05.2020 – 14.00
On Wednesday, 6 May 2020, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis addressed the National Council on the motion of the National Council’s Foreign Policy Committee (GPS-NR) "Supplementary credit for humanitarian aid" (20.3131). The motion is aimed at increasing the credits for humanitarian aid for the year 2020 by a total of CHF 100 million. The Federal Council had requested that the motion be accepted.
The head of the FDFA referred to the Federal Council's decision of Wednesday 29 April to support international actions with CHF 400 million. This support is made up of three parts: an interest-free loan of a maximum of CHF 200 million to the ICRC, a contribution of CHF 25 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, and further contributions of a maximum of CHF 175 million to various internationally active organisations. With this decision, the Federal Council has responded to the motion submitted by the GPS-NR. The motion was adopted by the Grand Chamber by 114 votes to 72 with four abstentions.
"The virus knows no borders – neither do its consequences," said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis during the National Council debate. Switzerland is showing solidarity in the global crisis and is living solidarity beyond its borders.
COVID-19: better protection for women and girls
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries have seen an increase in the risk of domestic violence due to the lockdown and limited access to support services. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis has therefore signed a joint statement with 58 other countries calling to strengthen the protection of women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis.
The joint statement calls for international responses to protect women's health and physical safety, but also to ensure women's active participation at all levels of decision-making in relation to the pandemic. It calls on all stakeholders, including the private sector, to come together to provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable countries and to give full effect to the global commitment to universal access to healthcare.
Switzerland engages at all levels to ensure that the various initiatives and programmes launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis include a gender perspective. Around the world and in its partner countries, Switzerland already works with the UN, governments and NGOs to improve mother-child health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. One example of this is the humanitarian aid programme in Myanmar which has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to include in its humanitarian response an integrated approach to gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, mental health and psychosocial support. Switzerland also supports UNFPA offices and partners on the ground to find suitable responses to new challenges in the programmes addressing gender-based violence.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis stresses the need to find joint solutions to the current health challenges. "It is important to ensure women's health and personal safety at the international level and to provide a global response to COVID-19."
01.05.2020 – 11.00
Successful return flight from Istanbul also a special moment for employees of Swiss representations in Turkey
"It was an exhausting time, but one which the staff of our Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate General in Istanbul will remember as a great success," says Julien Thöni, Consul General of Switzerland in Istanbul, looking back on 23 April: On this day, over 300 people were brought back to Switzerland on two commercial flights from Turkey.
Since the spread of the corona virus, the Swiss Consulate General in Istanbul and the Embassy in Ankara have been in constant contact with citizens who are stranded in Turkey and would like to return to Switzerland. Over time, the list of those willing to return grew so large that a return flight
could be considered. The KMZ in Bern gave the Consulate General the order to carry out such a flight. "In cooperation with the Turkish authorities, who were faced with the same situation of Turkish citizens in Switzerland, we managed to get Turkish Airlines to arrange two commercial flights," Julien Thöni looks back. These flights took place on Thursday afternoon, April 23, from Istanbul to Zurich.
Thanks to a support letter to the airport
The Consulate General took over the coordination of the operation and ensured contact with the authorities via the embassy in Ankara. The Consulate General in Istanbul informed all persons wishing to return. This was also necessary because the Turkish authorities imposed a curfew at short notice due to a national holiday for the set return flight day. This led to a great deal of hectic activity, which was handled over the weekend thanks to smooth organization at the Consulate General and deployment over the weekend. All passengers were issued with a letter of support with which they could then travel to the airport. In addition, all passengers were also reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow them to travel in Turkey. This worked out well for the relief of all.
At the airport itself, a team from the Consulate General received and supported passengers during boarding and passport control, as visas and residence permits had expired. Thanks to unbureaucratic assistance and good consultation with the Secretariat for Migration and the cantonal migration authorities as well as the Zurich airport police, the team at the airport was able to solve all problems on the spot and ensure that passengers could leave Turkey and enter Switzerland.
The fact that more than 300 people were brought back to Switzerland on 23 April made everyone involved happy and proud, as they were able to assist Swiss citizens in times of need.
30.04.2020 – 09.00
Switzerland to provide CHF 400 million in support of international action to combat the coronavirus
Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. The pandemic is compounding an already precarious situation in countries beset by poverty, armed conflict or natural disasters. To mitigate the consequences of the pandemic, the Federal Council has decided to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with a CHF 200 million interest-free loan and to contribute CHF 25 million to an IMF rapid credit facility to help countries address the pandemic. A further CHF 175 million is to be allocated to help strengthen internationally active organisations and international cooperation to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. With these funds, Switzerland is showing solidarity during the global crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on everyone's lives. Lockdown restrictions on business activity are threatening livelihoods in developing countries in particular. When the world's poorest lose their jobs or are prevented from going to work, they cannot feed their families. Most have no job security or the benefit of a robust social safety net to protect them in a crisis such as this one. The risk of social unrest is growing and millions more will lose their livelihoods and have no alternative but to leave their home and country. It is in Switzerland's interests to address the causes of forced displacement.
Contributions to internationally active organisations to combat the pandemic
The Federal Council is responding to urgent appeals for financial support from the UN, the WHO, the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the G20 and other organisations to help them maintain their ability to address the pandemic. The major internationally active organisations need funds to take additional measures to slow down the spread of the virus and to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
The Federal Council has agreed to contribute CHF 400 million to international efforts, particularly in developing countries. As a first step, it wants Switzerland to grant the ICRC an interest-free loan of up to CHF 200 million, repayable within seven years. In addition, it has proposed to contribute CHF 25 million to the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. Parliament will take a decision on both loan and contribution in the summer session. In May, the Federal Council will decide on additional contributions of up to CHF 175 million for various internationally active organisations.
This Federal Council's decision also responds to a motion put forward by the National Council Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a CHF 100 million increase in humanitarian aid credits for 2020.
Swift and effective international cooperation response
Switzerland has responded quickly and effectively to the crisis through its development cooperation programmes. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has made targeted adjustments to its programmes, particularly those being implemented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), to address the pandemic. The Federal Department of Economics, Education and Research has, for its part, adapted programmes currently being undertaken by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Over CHF 100 million in additional funding has been allocated from the current budget. These funds will be used to strengthen the work of organisations such as the UN (including the WHO), the ICRC and the IFRC as well as humanitarian and pandemic-related SDC projects. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has already delivered relief supplies at the request of affected countries. Switzerland is also supporting the efforts currently being undertaken by the World Bank Group and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
29.04.2020 – 20.40
#flyinghome: The flight from Ouagadougou landed in Zurich with 46 Swiss on board
The flight from Ouagadougou landed on Wednesday evening in Zurich with 46 passengers from Switzerland and 46 passengers from other countries (including 24 Swiss residents) on board. The flight, operated by Helvetic, stopped in Accra (Ghana) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to pick up passengers before arriving in the capital of Burkina Faso. This is the 10th flight from the African continent organised by Switzerland and should be the last repatriation flight organised by the FDFA.
29.04.2020 – 12.00
Philippines: From the islands via capital to Switzerland
The territory of the Philippines comprises over 7500 islands. Many of them are attractive travel destinations - and Swiss people enjoy spending their holidays on many of them. This is not an easy task for the Swiss Embassy in Manila when it comes to bringing Swiss travellers back to Switzerland as part of the FDFA's repatriation campaign, as internal air traffic in the Philippines is completely paralysed.
The Swiss embassy therefore organised flights to the capital at the end of last week working closely with other European embassies. Around 40 Swiss nationals (and other foreign tourists) arrived in Manila in this way from Siargao, Sipalay, Dumaguete, Palawan, Cebu and Boracay. From there they could then board the planes heading for Europe.
On 30 March 2020, the Embassy had already organised a flight from the island of Cebu via Manila to Switzerland, bringing 208 Swiss travellers and over 100 passengers from other countries to Zurich.
29.04.2020 – 11.00
Olympic Games and World Expo Dubai postponed – Switzerland will be there in 2021
Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the competent authorities of Japan have decided to postpone the holding of the games for one year.
At its meeting on 29 April 2020, the Federal Council confirmed its intention to use the two major events to promote Switzerland one year later, in 2021, and underlined the economic importance of the two platforms for the recovery of international markets.
It also approved the additional costs associated with the postponements and instructed Presence Switzerland in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) to continue the preparatory work for the House of Switzerland at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai within a new budget framework.
28.04.2020 – 12.00
Last flight of the FDFA's repatriation action foreseen to date lands on Wednesday
34 flights from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceania and within Europe have so far been organized by the FDFA as part of its repatriation action. On 29 April the last aircraft in this second phase of the repatriation strategy is expected to land in Zurich: It will return blocked travellers from Accra (Ghana), Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) to Switzerland.
The second phase focused on the repatriation of Swiss citizens stranded abroad who could no longer fly back themselves because their flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus and closed borders. No further return flights are currently planned after the one tomorrow from West Africa.
During phase three, when return flights are no longer possible, the FDFA is providing all possible and appropriate consular assistance to Swiss citizens and travellers abroad.
26.04.2020 – 07.05
#flyinghome: Third and last return flight from India landed in Zurich
Early Sunday morning an aircraft with 91 blocked Swiss nationals and 122 persons from other countries (44 of them resident in Switzerland) landed in Zurich. The Swiss plane took off from Kolkata in eastern India on Saturday, made a stopover in Kochi in the southwest of the country and reached its destination in Switzerland on Sunday.
This was one of the last flights in the second phase of the FDFA's large-scale repatriation operation. The Department is now focusing on the third and final phase of its strategy: the FDFA offers support and consular protection to travellers who cannot return and whose situation is difficult, as well as to Swiss nationals abroad, within the scope of its possibilities.
24.04.2020 – 10.30
The FDFA brings home almost 7,000 Swiss nationals stranded abroad
A flight from India scheduled for tomorrow and one from Africa next week will conclude the largest repatriation operation ever mounted by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The main focus is now on providing support for Swiss citizens who, for a variety of reasons, have been unable or unwilling to return to Switzerland.
A month ago the FDFA launched an unprecedented repatriation operation in cooperation with Swiss, Edelweiss und Helvetic. The first flight departed Zurich on March 22 for San José (Costa Rica). Since then, the FDFA's Crisis Management Centre (KMZ) has organised 35 flights from all parts of the world. Thirty-three flights to Switzerland have been completed successfully, allowing 6950 persons stranded abroad, including 3974 Swiss citizens, to return home. The remaining 2976 passengers are citizens of foreign countries, two third European ones. About one third of these foreigners reside in Switzerland. At the same time, over 1500 Swiss nationals have returned home on flights organised by other countries.
#flyinghome: The largest repatriation campain in Swiss history
A further special flight from India is scheduled to depart from Kolkata, with a stopover in Kochi, for Zurich, where it will land on Sunday morning. A final return flight from Africa is planned for Wednesday to bring home Swiss nationals from Accra (Ghana), Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
The repatriation flights would have been impossible without the professionalism and hard work of the FDFA's network of representations. The efforts of Swiss embassy and consulate staff, working in close cooperation with local authorities, proved decisive in obtaining the necessary flight permits, means of transportation and clearances to enable Swiss nationals scattered around the world, in some cases in remote areas, to reach the airports from which the flights departed.
Passengers pay their own way home
The Swiss government has already covered the total cost of approximately CHF 10 million for the repatriation flights. Repatriated individuals will be expected to contribute to the operation by paying the equivalent of the market rate for a standard fare.
Passengers pay their own way home
Up to 1,500km (short flights)
1,500–3,500km (medium-distance flights)
Over 3,500km (Long-distance flights)
Long-haul flights exceeding 12,000km
This cost-sharing contribution will cover about 80% of the entire operation. The FDFA will contribute to the remaining 20%. The contribution to the cost of repatriation is in line with the market price of an equivalent flight.