Given the dramatic situation and the approaching winter months, the Federal Council decided on 29 October to increase the humanitarian aid contribution to the crises in Syria and Iraq by a further CHF 20 million. This was approved by Parliament during its winter session. On the basis of the assessment of the needs of the victims of the crisis in Syria, a further CHF 4 million of the CHF 20 million has been made available to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). This brings Switzerland’s support this year to the WFP in the context of the Syrian crisis to a total of CHF 8.8 million. The WFP is one of Switzerland's most important partners in its support for the victims of the Syrian crisis, and on 1 December 2014 announced that it would stop its support activities for the 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries owing to a lack of funds. The additional contribution from Switzerland and other donor countries ensures the continuation of the programme into January.
This shortage of financial support however is not only affecting the WFP but other relief agencies as well. The estimated cost of the aid in 2014 in the context of the Syrian crisis is approximately CHF 6 billion – of which only half has been financed so far. For this reason, the CHF 20 million Switzerland is providing will also go to other UN relief agencies and the ICRC. Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, Switzerland has provided a total of CHF 122 million for aid via partners or its own projects. A little more than half of the budget (52%) will be used for aid to the population in need in Syria; the remainder (48%) for support to the more than 3.2 million refugees from Syria in the neighbouring countries, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Switzerland is however not only providing financial support but also expertise in the form of specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit to UN partner organisations.
Switzerland will continue to support the vulnerable population in and around Syria in 2015, also through the WFP. The funds are allocated on the basis of needs and in close coordination with its partners. The Confederation's Humanitarian Aid is continually monitoring the situation and needs on the ground and will be able to provide further rapid aid to agencies such as the WFP at the beginning of 2015 if required. In view of the massive spread of the Syrian crisis, now with more than 15 million people in need of support, Switzerland is aiming to finance medium-term programmes to strengthen the resilience of the local population in addition to its humanitarian emergency aid. For example, the Confederation's Humanitarian Aid is also supporting the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Syria in order to maintain the production of food and the livelihoods of the population, in addition to the emergency food aid it provides through the WFP.
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