(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

A statement by the head of the Caritas Switzerland development policy department revealed that Swiss weapons are being used in the Yemeni war and seem to have fuelled the latent conflict between India and Pakistan.

Patrik Berlinger cast doubt on the compatibility between Swiss development and cooperation policy and the nation’s record increase in the export of weapons and ammunition.

A recent report revealed that in 2019, Switzerland exported war material to 71 countries worldwide. The exports reportedly brought in a total of 728 million Swiss francs (about 674 million euros), a record 43% increase since 1938.

These are worrying figures, leading Caritas Switzerland to sound the alarm.

Berlinger said the organisation is asking itself: “Is Swiss policy still compatible with the goals of development cooperation in poor countries?”

Selling weapons to poor and exploited countries

Berlinger said, “Bern’s exports to conflict regions such as the Arabian Peninsula, or to very poor countries such as Bangladesh, or to areas where serious human rights violations occur, are at odds with Switzerland’s official development goals.”

“A country like Switzerland, which likes to be seen as a protagonist in peacebuilding, should systematically refrain from such harmful military exports,” he said.

The Caritas representative noted that fuelling conflict and violence with arms sales “not only damages local populations but also undermines international diplomacy and the valuable development cooperation Switzerland offers the poorest countries, which are often victims of devastating conflicts.”

About Caritas Switzerland

Caritas Switzerland is an independent association with its head office in Lucerne. It is a member of the international Caritas network that consists of 165 organisations worldwide which are active in more than two hundred countries.

Together with the network of regional Caritas organisations, Caritas Switzerland is actively engaged wherever people in wealthy Switzerland are affected by poverty: families, single parents, the unemployed and the working poor.

Caritas looks after asylum seekers and refugees and organises volunteer placements.

With its projects in development cooperation, Caritas works in the areas of food security, water, climate change, disaster prevention, migration as well as education for children and adults.

More on the Church pushes for worldwide disarmament:

Swiss Justice and Peace Commission opposes arms exports to nations in civil war: “Weapons monopolise resources needed for peace”

“Stop investing in unacceptable weapons”: Pax Christi pushes governments to embrace humanitarian disarmament post-COVID-19

Holy See reiterates “strong support” for COVID-19 global ceasefire, easing of sanctions

Vatican pleads with governments to divert weapons spending to ensure food security for world’s 800 million hungry


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.