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Candles lit across Switzerland symbolise ‘solidarity’ for families in poverty

NGO Caritas, with the help of the Swiss population, lit candles in Bern to draw attention to poverty in Switzerland. Obs/caritas Schweiz / Caritas Suisse

Thousands of candles have been burning brightly in cities across Switzerland to highlight the plight of children and families living in poverty.

The ‘One million Stars’ campaign is the work of Caritas Switzerland, part of a global charity which focuses on those affected by poverty and works to address the causes of poverty.

Lighting up the country through candles was, says the charity, about ‘expressing solidarity’ and communicating the message that poverty is ‘often invisible’, reports online news outlet SwissInfo.

Some 2,000 candles were lit in around 100 towns and cities, big and small, with everyone offered a chance to light their own candle as a show of support and time for reflection.

‘Expressing solidarity’

Figures from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO), says SwissInfo, show that 745,000 people are affected by poverty in Switzerland. In total, around 1,240,000 people – one person in seven – do not have enough money to live on, and their income is well below that of the population as a whole.

Families with three or more children are more likely than average to be affected by poverty.

And yet the situation is not improving; since 2014, poverty in Switzerland has been rising steadily, says Caritas, and the forthcoming rise in annual health insurance premiums is only likely to worsen the situation of people facing an already precarious financial outlook.

Christine Gerstner, coordinator of the candlelight event for Caritas, says: “Poverty often results in social isolation. The Christmas period is particularly difficult when there is not enough money for everything.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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