On Saturday in Switzerland a number of government organisations co-sponsored public events to celebrate and improve the safety of populations at home and abroad.
The first event celebrated 25 years of Swiss peace-keeping on behalf of the United Nations. Around 9,000 members of the Swiss Army, including 560 women, have participated in international peace-keeping missions in the past quarter century. That engagement was celebrated on Saturday with a public event at the SWISSINT Competence Centre in canton Nidwalden.
The event, designed to give the public insight into the history of Swiss peace-keeping, featured demonstrations of a Super Puma helicopter, search-and-rescue dogs, robotic mine removers, and heavy military construction equipment used on missions, as well as the “most modern armoured ambulance in the world”.
SWISSINT comprises around 300 officers, noncommissioned officers, soldiers and civilians carrying out more than a dozen operations in Europe, Asia and Africa. In other countries, military observers and liaison officers, military advisers, and demining experts are available on behalf of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Currently, Swiss President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter chairs the OSCE.
Meanwhile, in Winterthur on Saturday the Safety Directorate of the canton of Zurich, the Office of Military and Civil Defence and the Zurich Forensic Institute sponsored a voluntary gun return event.
Officials collected more than 300 guns from civilians, including carbines, long guns, assault rifles, pistols, revolvers and ammunition, as well as 300 bayonets and a range of explosives. The items collected will be destroyed.
Keeping military firearms at home is a longstanding tradition in Switzerland, where members of the Swiss Army are supposed to be ready for a call to arms in times of crisis. Up to a million firearms belonging to citizens no longer on standby for active military service are still in circulation, it was estimated in 2013.