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)
© FDFA

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 five million in all – have fled to neighbouring countries. Owing to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, more than eleven 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. 

Protection

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.

Water

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

Links

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

Switzerland and Lebanon

Switzerland and Jordan

Switzerland and Iraq

  • Travel information provided by fairunterwegs.org (de)
    Information provided by the travel portal, fairunterwegs.org, which is supported by the SDC, about fairness in interacting with people and nature while travelling

Syria

Lebanon

Jordan

Iraq

  • Background information provided by the BBC:

Syria

Lebanon

Jordan

Iraq

Current projects

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Switzerland donates ambulances to Syria's suffering population

Switzerland is financing twelve new ambulances to improve the situation of people suffering from the consequences of the war in Syria. © FDFA

20.02.2016 - 31.10.2017

The SDC has delivered twelve new ambulances to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). A Swiss delegation accompanied the delivery in the Syrian capital Damascus. The ambulances are urgently needed in Syria because the country's health system has too few ambulances to cope with the enormous number of victims caused by the war, including attacks against hospitals.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Syria
Humanitarian Assistance
Health
Health system strengthening
Primary health care
Emergency and relief
HEALTH
HEALTH
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
Health policy and administrative management
Basic health care
Material relief assistance and services

20.02.2016 - 31.10.2017


CHF 900'000



Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.


Swiss experts to UN agencies in the frame of the regional crises in the Middle East

24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017

The Middle East is currently contending with two L3 crises:  Iraq and Syria. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance: refugees, lDPs, host communities. In line with the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-

2018, SHA experts provide technical support & strategic advice to UN agencies, contributing to a strengthened, coordinated response. The deployed experts allow Switzerland to expand its operational engagement and humanitarian presence in the region, including in contexts where SDC has no office (Iraq and Syria).


IOM – Community-based Housing for Displaced Families in Syria

01.12.2015 - 31.08.2017

Most IDPs in Syrian government-held areas are “self-settled”, i.e. seek shelter through informal arrangements with host families or in ad-hoc local agreements. This causes problems with host communities. Public services get overstretched and livelihood competition increases. The project provides more viable housing for IDPs in government areas, while ensuring common access to public services and improved livelihood opportunities for IDPs and hosts, thus contributing to community resilience.

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Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.


JOR - RSS Mapping Aquifer Vulnerability

01.09.2016 - 28.02.2018

The large influx of refugees into Jordan has increased the volume of solid waste going into landfills. A major problem experienced at the landfills is the loss of leachate, and the subsequent potential contamination of the groundwater. The municipalities in Jordan are expanding the current landfills to adapt to the unprecedented solid waste generation. The preparation of the vulnerability maps for these areas will help mitigate against the contamination of the groundwater. Five sites have been chosen for this purpose.


Rehabiltiation of public schools accomodating Syrian refugee children

01.04.2016 - 31.07.2019

Education is one of the public sectors particularly under pressure due to the influx of refugees. There are currently 143,000 school-aged Syrian refugees enrolled in public schools in Jordan, another approx. 83,000 remain out of school. Overstretched infrastructure and lack of space are major challenges. SDC will continue to support the Ministry of Education (MoE) in non-structural rehabilitation of schools accommodating Syrian refugees, including water and sanitation facilities, contributing to increase the accommodating capacities. The project will also include an awareness component addressing maintenance issues.


Swiss experts to UN agencies in the frame of the regional crises in the Middle East

24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017

The Middle East is currently contending with two L3 crises:  Iraq and Syria. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance: refugees, lDPs, host communities. In line with the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-

2018, SHA experts provide technical support & strategic advice to UN agencies, contributing to a strengthened, coordinated response. The deployed experts allow Switzerland to expand its operational engagement and humanitarian presence in the region, including in contexts where SDC has no office (Iraq and Syria).


Reduce vulnerability in Jordan in the context of water scarcity and increasing food/energy demand

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2018

The rationale of this project is to reduce vulnerability of rural Jordanian and other disadvantaged communities in the context of water scarcity for agriculture, increased demand for food and livelihood provision from growing populations, and rising energy demand. To this end, the project pilots a three-pronged, community­ based approach, combining water harvesting, conjunctive use of groundwater, and solar power for lifting irrigation water.


Mitigating the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordanian vulnerable host communities

01.05.2015 - 31.12.2017

Tensions are increasing between the Jordanian host population and Syrian refugees. This project will put local organisations and municipalities in a better position to address these rising tensions. Thanks to this project, a funding mechanism will be set up to support projects which will increase social cohesion and acceptance between host and refugee populations.


Decent work for migrants in the Middle East

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2018

The Middle East attracts high numbers of migrants from South/South East Asia. While migrants constitute an important contribution to the Gulf State economies and the development of their countries of origin, they remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse along the migration chain. This programme builds on gains made during its first phase and seeks to improve legal frameworks and their implementation in favour of decent work conditions for migrants. The approach combines operational support to migrants, capacity building of national and civil society actors with regional and global policy dialogue efforts.

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Swiss experts to UN agencies in the frame of the regional crises in the Middle East

24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017

The Middle East is currently contending with two L3 crises:  Iraq and Syria. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance: refugees, lDPs, host communities. In line with the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-

2018, SHA experts provide technical support & strategic advice to UN agencies, contributing to a strengthened, coordinated response. The deployed experts allow Switzerland to expand its operational engagement and humanitarian presence in the region, including in contexts where SDC has no office (Iraq and Syria).


Integrated Protection, Education and WASH Assistance to Vulnerable Children and their Families Affected by the IDP Crisis in Iraq

15.12.2015 - 31.08.2017

The Iraq crisis is causing severe impact on the well-being of children who are increasingly exposed to conflict, displacement, and death. A growing number of school aged children affected by the conflict do not have access to basic standard education. This project, implemented by SDC’s partner Save the Children, contributes to creating safer environments for conflict-affected children to help them learn, receive psychosocial treatment and improve their health and wellbeing in the underserved region of Khanaqin.


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Rehabilitation of schools in northern Lebanon

The rehabilitated schools are providing a better learning environment for Lebanese as well as Syrian pupils. © SDC

16.11.2015 - 31.07.2018

Following the rehabilitation of 28 schools in northern Lebanon in the first phases of the project, the SDC is expanding its engagement to 24 other schools in the same region. The rehabilitation works are being carried out in cooperation with the Lebanese authorities to help them cope with the large influx of refugee children from Syria.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Humanitarian Assistance
Education
Formal basic education (primary and lower secondary)
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation
EDUCATION
HUMANITARIAN AID
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
Primary education
Reconstruction relief and rehabilitation
Multisector aid

16.11.2015 - 31.07.2018


CHF 3'690'000



LEB – Improved Water Resources Monitoring and Integrated Water Resources Management in the North of Lebanon

01.07.2017 - 30.06.2020

For over five years now, the Syria crisis is continuing to affect middle-income neighbouring countries. As a result, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The weak governance of the Government has been worsened with the burden of the refugees from Syria and Palestine who use the same overstretched infrastructure and public services. The project aims at enabling the water authorities to better manage the water sector for the benefit of the vulnerable communities in the North of the country.


Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.


Tahaddi Community Empowerment Programme

01.08.2016 - 30.09.2019

The shantytowns in southern Beirut, Hay Al-Gharbeh and Sabra Al Horsh, are home to more than 10'000 marginalized people, amongst them also Syrians, who fled their country. In the absence of public services, the local NGO Tahaddi seeks to alleviate the dire conditions for the inhabitants through social services , psychological support, health and education programs. Besides supporting the ongoing program, the SDC contribution also strengthens Tahaddi's organisational development.


LEB Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation (GKCF) Support to Centers in Palestine Refugee Camps – BNS & PRO

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2019

Palestine Refugees have no access to public schools in Lebanon. UNRWA runs 69 schools and 2 vocational education centers that cannot meet all the needs of an increasingly young population. Non-profits play a key role in complementing UNRWA’s services, particularly in early childhood. Further, many schools lack the necessary infrastructure, equipment and staff to support children with special needs. The main objective of the project is to improve the lives of Palestine Refugee (and other nationality) children and integrate those with disabilities in the regular education system.


Swiss experts to UN agencies in the frame of the regional crises in the Middle East

24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017

The Middle East is currently contending with two L3 crises:  Iraq and Syria. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance: refugees, lDPs, host communities. In line with the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-

2018, SHA experts provide technical support & strategic advice to UN agencies, contributing to a strengthened, coordinated response. The deployed experts allow Switzerland to expand its operational engagement and humanitarian presence in the region, including in contexts where SDC has no office (Iraq and Syria).


LEB- UN-Habitat: Addressing the impacts of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Tripoli and Tyr

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2017

With over 1 million Syrian refugees against a population of around 4.2 million, Lebanon now has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Around 35 % of those refugees are hosted in the four largest cities: Tripoli, Beirut, Saida and Tyr which accommodate 50% of the total population in Lebanon. Priority needs are shelter, food and livelihoods. UN-Habitat in Lebanon addresses the urban challenges and needs in these cities.


LEB- UNDP -Improving Living Conditions in Palestinian Gatherings

01.10.2015 - 30.09.2018

In Lebanon, 455'000 Palestine refugees are officially registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Some 250'000 of them live in 12 official camps; others live in and around cities and towns, often in areas called gatherings. There are 42 such gatherings in Lebanon where over 140'000 Palestine refugees live (as well as poor Lebanese and Palestine refugees from Syria). Through this project, SDC aims at contributing to improved living conditions in these gatherings by providing basic urban services.


LEB Direct Action - contribution to improved access to water and sanitation services in Bekaa Valley

01.10.2015 - 31.03.2019

The delivery of Water and Sanitation services by the Bekaa Water Establishment (BWE) has been partly disrupted since the massive arrival of refugees from Syria, due to a high demand on an establishment whose structure and daily operation procedures are inefficient. SDC intends to support the much needed development of the BWE to improve the quality of its services to all, Lebanese host communities as well as refugee populations.


LEB, TdH, Protection of the Most Vulnerable Children Affected by the Syria crisis in South Lebanon

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2017

Since 2011 almost 1.2 million Syrians crossed into Lebanon seeking safety and shelter. Especially children struggle with many challenges during displacement including family separation, exposure to physical and/or psychological violence, abuse, child labour and exploitation, early marriage, and recruitment by armed groups. Through this project, Terre des hommes builds and expands on its regular interventions in South Lebanon by including Syrian refugee children and strengthening capacities of local child protection actors.


Decent work for migrants in the Middle East

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2018

The Middle East attracts high numbers of migrants from South/South East Asia. While migrants constitute an important contribution to the Gulf State economies and the development of their countries of origin, they remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse along the migration chain. This programme builds on gains made during its first phase and seeks to improve legal frameworks and their implementation in favour of decent work conditions for migrants. The approach combines operational support to migrants, capacity building of national and civil society actors with regional and global policy dialogue efforts.


JPO Programme, Volées 2013-2018, Humanitarian Aid HA

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

The aim of the programme is to increase Switzerland's presence within the UN system. This measure also meets the more general aim of strengthening the influence and quality of Switzerland's political dialogue with the target agencies. The JPO programme will eventually serve to intensify this political dialogue and increase Switzerland's capacity to monitor the work of agencies through direct contact with the JPOs recruited through this programme.

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