The refugee situation made Finnish people want to help – the Hunger Day made a fundraising record

Petteri Kivimäki
Image: Petteri Kivimäki

The Hunger Day collection has already raised over 3.8 million euros this year The result is the best of all time. The funds are used to aid the victims of conflicts and disasters around the world and in Finland.

Donate for the Hunger Day
  • By calling the number 0600 12220 (€20.28 + local network charge)
  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • Online at www.nälkäpäivä.fi
  • Through MobilePay, using the number 040 135 88 00
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference: 5173  
  • National Police Board fundraising permit 2020/2013/2937/11.10.2013. ÅLR 2014/9086/3.12.2014

The Hunger Day box collection that took place in September was organised in exceptional conditions this year. Conflicts and lack of prospects have driven the most people out of their homes since the Second World War. This made people want to help, and the campaign, continuing until the end of October, has already raised over 3.8 million euros.

A record number of asylum seekers have also arrived in Finland. The Finnish Red Cross maintains a total of 72 reception units with 13,000 places at the moment. The state pays for the expenses of the actual reception operations.

“People were exceptionally active to join as box collectors and to donate, and they also registered as volunteers. This was also a statement for the humane treatment of the asylum seekers,” estimates Anna Laurinsilta, the Head of Fundraising Operations of the Finnish Red Cross.

This year, the activity of businesses has also been a new aspect of the campaign.

“The businesses understood that the current societal situation is special and they also donated large sums,” says Laurinsilta.

Volunteers have a central role

The Hunger Day collection raises funds for the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The funds of the Disaster Relief Fund are not earmarked for any specific purpose: they are used to aid the victims of natural disasters and conflicts throughout the world. The donations are also used to offer aid in Finland.

The collection was organised for the 35th time. Only twice before has the result of the Hunger Day collection crossed the three-million-euro threshold. The last time was during the Balkan war in 1992, and before that during the Ethiopian famine in 1984.

Over the course of the last few weeks, more than 8,000 volunteers have supported the asylum seekers arriving in Finland by organising clubs and other activities for them and by helping the personnel start the activity in the reception units.

“The donations help maintain the aid preparedness and the reception unit volunteer activities of the Finnish Red Cross. The volunteers also support the authorities in integrating the asylum seekers into Finnish society as quickly as possible,” says Marita Salo,the Organisation Director of the Finnish Red Cross.

Finland ready to aid the Philippines

The funds raised during the Hunger Day campaign are also used on development co-operation and on helping the governments prepare for natural disasters. For example, the Finnish Red Cross has for years supported the Philippines, which is one of the countries most vulnerable to disasters.

At the moment, the northern Philippines are battered by the Koppu typhoon whose heavy rains have caused large floods in the northern areas of the country. More than 14,000 people have been evacuated from the storm area, and the rescue groups of the local Red Cross society have rescued more than a hundred people from the post-storm dangers. Food aid and other supplies are now distributed to the areas hit by the storm.

“If the rains continue for long, the impact will be disastrous. However, it currently seems that the number of victims will remain low thanks to the evacuations and the preparations made in advance. Regardless, the situation may change rapidly,” says Andreas von Weissenberg, Head of International Disaster Aid of the Finnish Red Cross.

Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013, was the strongest typhoon ever recorded and tore away over a million homes, killing more than 6,300 people and injuring more than 28,000. The Finnish Red Cross delivered emergency aid and rebuilding support to the country quickly, and has afterwards expanded the disaster preparedness programme to new areas.