Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)

In Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, SDC is working to provide protection and basic services for refugees and others in need, and to ensure sustainable water management. It promotes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and is working to ensure better operating conditions for humanitarian organisations in Syria.

Map of the region Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)

The conflicts in the Middle East are having a dramatic impact on the population: 

as a result of the Syrian conflict, more than 13 million people in Syria alone are dependent on humanitarian aid. More than six million Syrians have been displaced within the country, while millions more – over four million in all – have fled to neighbouring countries. Owing to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, more than eight million people are directly reliant on humanitarian aid – practically a quarter of the entire population. Fighting within the country has driven more than three million people from their homes. 

The neighbouring countries have thus far shown extraordinary generosity towards the huge influx of refugees, but are fast approaching the limits of their capacity to take in any more.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi authorities to meet the basic needs of the refugees and the local population. 

The overarching aim of Switzerland in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is to contribute to peaceful and secure living conditions for people affected by conflict and other vulnerable groups, to reduce fragility and to resolve and prevent conflicts. 

SDC focuses its engagement on four action lines: cash and in-kind contributions to humanitarian and development organisations; implementation of its own projects (direct actions); secondments of technical experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to UN partner organisations; and the promotion of international coordination and humanitarian diplomacy.

* planned; total based on available data
SDC figures excluding program contributions to Swiss NGOs
.. = figures not available | – = nil or amount < 5'000 CHF
a Excluding multilateral contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of 11 mil. CHF in 2013, 18.8 mil. CHF in 2014 and 17.9 mil. CHF in 2015

Basic needs and services

Providing refugees and local populations with basic services 

The aim is to save lives and reduce the vulnerability of people affected by conflict and other groups at risk and to help them to improve their resilience. SDC’s engagement covers basic needs and access to services by providing emergency aid, food and shelter, but also through its support for education, work and income generation, legal advice and psychological care.

In order to ensure that the basic needs of refugees and local populations are met, the capacity of existing government and civil society service providers must be increased. In addition, measures must be implemented to help prevent future natural disasters and human-made crises and allow for an appropriate and timely response. 

Renovating schools in Jordan and Lebanon

Thanks to the work being done by Switzerland (with support from Liechtenstein) to renovate schools in Jordan and Lebanon, refugee children are able to attend school along with children from local communities in a safe, child-friendly environment. The project also aims to strengthen the children's sense of belonging to their own particular school and to help the Syrian refugee children integrate more fully. 


Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law

Switzerland's aim is to create an environment that gives protection to people affected by conflict and other vulnerable groups. To this end, it seeks dialogue with parties to the conflict as well as those affected by it, state and non-state. It promotes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, helps in the search for political solutions, and contributes to resolving existing conflicts and preventing new ones. 

Psychosocial support for children affected by conflict

In southern Lebanon, Switzerland is supporting a project of "Terre des hommes" (Lausanne), which provides Lebanese and refugee children with access to psychosocial care. The aim is to support the children in processing what they have experienced, for example displacement, separation from their family, violence, abuse, early marriage or recruitment by armed groups.


Sustainable, conflict-sensitive water management

Providing conflict-affected people and other vulnerable groups with safe drinking water and sanitary facilities saves lives. The scarcity of water in the region requires sustainable, conflict-sensitive management of this resource, to allow for efficient food production and to prevent water-related disasters, be they natural or human-made.

Water supply in the Jerash refugee camp

In northern Jordan, Switzerland is supporting the construction of an underground sewage system and the restoration of the water supply system in the refugee camp of Jerash. The improved access to clean water and sustainable sanitation facilities will enhance the quality of life of the 25,000 Palestine refugees living in the camp.

Approach and partners

Using a coherent, whole-of-government approach, Switzerland is able to combine its strengths and is constantly evaluating the impact of its efforts in order to respond flexibly to changing conditions.

Switzerland's engagement in the Middle East is fulfilled by the following federal offices: the SDC Humanitarian Aid, the Human Security Division (HSD), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS). In addition, Switzerland makes use of its channels for maintaining external relations and capitalises on its role in international forums. It works closely with local authorities in the countries concerned, with other donor countries, international and multilateral organisations.

All programmes include a conflict-sensitive approach, follow the principles of good governance and integrate gender aspects. 

Switzerland's key partners in the region: 

  • national and local authorities in the countries concerned
  • international organisations: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • multilateral organisations: the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • local civil society organisations: the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee and the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq, among others
  • international NGOs: Terre des hommes and MEDAIR, among others

Background information Near East

Facts and figures
  Jordan Lebanon Syria Iraq  
Surface area 89'342 10'400 185'000 438’317 km2
Population 6.318 4.425 22.399 32.578 mill.
Annual population growth rate (since 1990) 2.2 1.0 2.0 2.5 %
Life expectancy at birth women / men 75.4 / 72.1 82.0 / 77.8 77.7 / 71.9 73.0 / 65.7 years
Adult illiteracy rate: women / men 6.1 / 2.3 .. 22.3 / 9.7 28.8 / 14.0 %
Gross Domestic Product GDP per capita 4'909.0 9'705.4 .. 6'625.2 USD
Percentage of population with less than 2 USD per day 1.6 .. .. .. %
Facts and figures

.. = figures not available

Source: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2014


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    Representation website, travel advice (in DE, FR and IT only) and information about life in the country and bilateral relations

Switzerland and Lebanon

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Switzerland and Iraq

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