The overall goal of the Swiss Cooperation Programme in the Middle East 2015 - 2018 is to contribute to safe, viable and peaceful living conditions for conflict-affected and vulnerable people, reducing fragility, preventing and transforming conflicts. The Cooperation Programme is implemented by different Swiss federal units, namely the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Directorate for Political Affairs and the State Secretariat for Migration. The Swiss Cooperation Programme is aligned with multilateral and national response plans and entails different cooperation instruments, combining humanitarian as well as resilience and conflict transformation-oriented interventions.

Domains of intervention of the Swiss Cooperation Programme

Domain 1: Basic Needs & Services – with the objective to save lives, reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resilience. Vulnerable populations are to be supported in improving their access to basic needs and services. Self-reliance and coping mechanisms are to be enhanced while preparedness, response and rehabilitation mechanisms are to be fostered for addressing natural and man-made disaster risks.

Domain 2: Protection – with the objective to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and human rights and contribute to conflict transformation, as well as to a protective environment for conflict-affected and vulnerable populations, including IDPs, refugees and migrants.

Domain 3: Water – with the objective to enhance resilient, sustainable and conflict-sensitive water management.

Transversal themes

The transversal themes Gender Equality, Good Governance, and Disaster Risk Reduction determine the Swiss Cooperation Programme in the region. They are an inherent part of the programme in order to contribute both to the transformation of relationships and the promotion of inclusive mechanisms within the societies.

Implementation modalities

The intervention modalities of the Swiss Cooperation Programme entails:

  • Contributions to multilateral interventions, e.g. undertaken by ICRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRWA, OCHA, WFP, UN-Habitat and UNDP in form of  funding, in-kind contribution and secondments of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) experts.

  • Bilateral project partnerships e.g. contributions, partnerships and mandates to implementing civil society organisations, INGOs, research institutions, service providers.

  • Direct project implementation by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, respecting the principle of subsidiarity and where Switzerland can offer a strong comparative advantage and internal expertise.

  • Switzerland continues to engage in humanitarian diplomacy, especially related to improving humanitarian access and the working environment for aid agencies, and in policy dialogue with multilateral aid agencies with a view to enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of aid coordination.

More than 60 years of commitment

The Swiss development cooperation has been active in the region for more than 60 years. It started off by supporting Palestine refugees through UNRWA and extended its scope of work by opening a liaison office in East Jerusalem in 1994. With this office, the SDC launched its first development programme to promote institution building as well as enhance the prospect of sustainable peace in the region.

For assistance in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, the SDC opened a Regional Cooperation Office in Amman in 2001. Initially, the SDC’s main priority was to assist Palestine refugees. However, since the outbreak of the Syria crisis in March 2011, its activities have been extended to victims of the Syria conflict as well as the host communities of neighbouring countries.

The Regional Cooperation Office in Amman coordinates all activities of the SDC programme offices in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ankara, Turkey, as well as the programme in Iraq, where there is no field office. Due to the increasing violence in Syria, the office in Damascus was closed in 2012.