How Switzerland comes to the aid of people forced to flee their homes

Article, 20.05.2016

What action can be taken to address the ever-increasing number and duration of humanitarian crises? The SDC’s Humanitarian Aid takes measures to make the most efficient use possible of the funds at its disposal. In addition to providing emergency aid it gives priority to enabling population groups forcibly displaced by conflicts or other disasters to take their lives in their own hands in the long term. Switzerland will contribute the results of several successful experiences it has had in this field to the discussions at the World Humanitarian Summit on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul.

A family in a refugee camp
When crises cannot be avoided, the SDC’s Humanitarian Aid does all it can to launch projects that enable vulnerable population groups to rebuild their everyday life in the long term. © UNHCR

From the perspective of humanitarian aid for the victims of conflicts and natural disasters, these are frightening times. Humanitarian needs for 2015 alone amounted to almost CHF 20 billion (five times more than ten years ago), of which only half was raised. 

The main crises today are characterised by their durations of many years as can be seen with the Syrian crisis, the persistent emergency situation in the Central African Republic and the ongoing acts of violence committed by the Boko Haram group against civilians. It is estimated that the number of forcibly displaced people in the world currently stands at 60 million. 

Faced with this reality, the donor countries, international organisations and NGOs are obliged to set priorities and deal with the most urgent needs – this meaning that hundreds of millions of other people around the world see their basic needs (subsistence, education, health) remain unmet.

Long-term rehabilitation 

In parallel, Switzerland, like others, is doing all it can to adapt its intervention strategies. For many years the SDC and the FDFA's Human Security Division have been actively involved in preventing conflicts and disasters by means of concrete initiatives carried out in the regions concerned. 

When crises cannot be avoided, however, the SDC's Humanitarian Aid endeavours to launch projects that aim to contribute to the rehabilitation of vulnerable population in the long term. By means of support Switzerland helps beneficiaries to develop their own 'resilience', meaning their ability to confront difficulties and rebuild their everyday life – in many cases far from home. 

At the World Humanitarian Summit, the Swiss delegation, headed by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, will have the opportunity to present a number of successes Switzerland has had in this field (see below). Furthermore, Switzerland will appeal for greater respect for the values and principles of international humanitarian law.

Syria: employment aid, food vouchers and durable accommodation

Helping displaced Syrians to feel useful and earn a livelihood while contributing to the reconstruction of their country – this is the aim of a project launched by the United Nations Development Programme and co-funded by the SDC. In view of this protracted crisis, Syrians are unwilling to remain inactive for much longer.

«Recommencer à vivre dans un pays à feu et à sang», (Starting life again in a country torn apart by war), article to appear in the 2/2016 edition of the 'Un seul monde' magazine (special dossier 'Refugees and migrants') (PDF, Page 1, 2.4 MB, French)

The resilience of the victims of the Syrian conflict also involves developing new ways of providing food aid. In the cities of Homs and Latakia, the World Food Programme distributes vouchers to pregnant women and mothers with newborns, with which they are able to buy the kinds of food that best meet their needs. A member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit is coordinating the project.

Interview with Stefan Bumbacher, specialist working for the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit

The financial and technical support that Switzerland is providing the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Syria is crucial. The two years that building expert Henri Stalder spent in Damascus has enabled the UNHCR to draw up standards for 'solid' buildings in the midst of the ruins. Only when displaced Syrians have a proper roof over their heads will they be able to look to the future.

UNHCR-project in Syria: Rebuilding beyond the crisis

In general, Switzerland's involvement in the Middle East aims to complement the emergency aid delivered to Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon with a long-term vision of development for the populations concerned.

Switzerland’s Middle East cooperation strategy: ensuring the long-term security of civilian populations

Darfur: producing honey against all odds

Almost three million Sudanese were forced to flee their land during the war in Darfur. Since 2010, the SDC has funded a programme to relaunch local beekeeping to enable displaced communities to become as financially autonomous as possible. It has paid off: to date, more than 3,300 family beekeeping operations are marketing their honey, which in some cases is generating up to CHF 2,900 a year.

Project in Sudan «Farmers displaced by the conflict acquire a business perspective»

Somalia: humanitarian aid to strengthen basic services

In 2016, the SDC has allocated CHF 4 million to support the ICRC's efforts in Somalia to raise awareness among various local actors about respect for international humanitarian law. The SDC is also improving the health systems, the drinking water networks and agricultural production in several parts of the country.

Somalia: the challenges of operating in a protracted crisis

Nansen Initiative: a long-term vision for displaced people 

In October 2015, Switzerland and Norway presented the 'Agenda for the protection of cross-border displaced persons in the context of disasters and climate change', which was the product of the Nansen Initiative developed by Bernese professor Walter Kälin.

Preventive measures to help people displaced by natural disasters or the effects of climate change

Links

Current projects

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Planned project

Skills Development Program Cambodia

01.07.2020 - 31.12.2027

Skills development is a key driver for inclusive growth in Cambodia, but delivery is poor. Through the Skills Development Program, SDC supports the rural poor and disadvantaged youth in northern provinces to have better access to more gainful and decent employment through vocational and life skills and contributes to strengthening the TVET national regulatory framework for better inclusion, more effective delivery and higher relevance of vocational skills to labor market needs.


Strengthening Systems that Combat Corruption and Impunity in Central America

01.07.2020 - 30.04.2027

The national systems that combat corruption and impunity in Central America are weak. Led by the Organization of American States and the United Nations, mechanisms were set up in Honduras and in Guatemala to promote rule law by strengthening the cohesion and coordination within governments, the judiciary system, civil society, and anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering entities. SDC contributes to both mechanism to support the fight against organized crime and impunity, and enhancing knowledge management between the two mechanisms.


Horn of Africa: One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2032

The project aims at improving the well-being of targeted pastoral communities challenged with inadequate access to basic health/veterinary services and environmental conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya through integrated health service delivery for both pastoralists and their livestock. The project will contribute to stability and vulnerability’s reduction of citizens in the region, thereby reducing their displacement/migration which is in the interest of Switzerland and the international community.


Central America: Regional Program for Environmental Governance and Resilience in the Gulf of Fonseca

01.06.2020 - 31.12.2024

The regional program fosters shared governance of natural resources to build resilience in the coastal communities of the Gulf of Fonseca. It contributes to the protection and sustainable use of the shared mangrove ecosystem of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Switzerland sees this gulf region as a priority for its high levels of poverty and extreme vulnerability to climate change. 


Strengthening of civil-political-economic rights and social auditing.

01.05.2020 - 30.06.2027

Strengthening civil-political-economic rights, freedom of expression and social auditing is a priority to ensure the functioning of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Honduras. The role of civil society is essential in the construction of citizenship and to ensure a system of check and balance. Therefore, the program will support 6 to 8 national civil society organization with strong anchoring in the territories to promote jointly in a concerted, impartial and evidence based way these topics.


Planned project

SHOMOSHTI - Prosperity for the poor and disadvantaged

01.04.2020 - 30.06.2027

Rural households, engaged in agriculture and cottage industries, will benefit from a better wellbeing due to more income and savings, and improved nutrition, health and levels of education. The Shomoshti project will achieve this through a combined approach of facilitating markets to work for the poor and disadvantaged, and ensuring their effective access to social services and savings systems.


Planned project

Yangtze (Changjiang) flood and drought risk management under climate change (CRM)

01.04.2020 - 31.12.2024

Flood and drought risks in the Yangtze river basin are significant and likely to increase because of climate change. To reduce human suffering and economic losses, the Yangtze Water Resources Commission needs a comprehensive assessment of future flood and drought risks under a changing climate, in order to improve policy-making and investment planning at basin level. The project will harness Swiss expertise in climate-modelling, flood-forecasting and risk management.


Planned project

Strengthening capacities for energy efficiency in buildings in Latin America (CEELA)

01.03.2020 - 28.02.2026

Emissions caused by the buildings and construction sector are one of the major causes of climate change. Switzerland will contribute to limiting global temperature rise by strengthening capacities for energy-efficient and thermally comfortable building design and construction in Latin America, transferring and adapting expertise gained from the Swiss success story of drastically lowering the energy use of new buildings in the last decades.


Local Economic Development (LED) Project

01.02.2020 - 30.09.2029

Small and medium entrepreneurs, their employees, and citizens will benefit from inclusive economic growth and equitable employment generation. Public and private sector actors will engage in joint local economic strategizing, planning and implementation. The improved framework conditions for inclusive business will result in more jobs, economic empowerment and ultimately increased sustainable income and well-being; particularly of the poor and disadvantaged.


Planned project

Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Reliable Employment (ENSSURE)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2025

500’000 unskilled youths enter the Nepali labour market yearly but remain un- or underemployed as the market cannot absorb them. ENSSURE aims at enhancing gainful wage and self-employment mainly for youth of disadvantaged groups through short-/medium-term training, apprenticeship and business skills development. It will work through close public-private partnerships at national and district level of the vocational training and expand service provision to sectors of high productivity and employment.


Planned project

Community-driven watershed management for climate change adaptation in Nicaragua

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024

In Nicaragua’s “dry corridor” strong climate variability results in reduced agricultural production and scarcity of water. The project will contribute to: the dialog among all actors of selected watersheds; commonly agreed upon action planning; and community-led rehabilitation of ecosystems. This will enhance the resilience of poor parts of the population confronted with climate change and will allow a healthy agro-ecological balance to be re-established in the watersheds.


Planned project

Domestic accountability and local revenue mobilisation

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

The project will support national and local government actors to increase local revenue generation alongside improving their capacities to exercise internal and external control functions. Equally importantly, dialogue and exchange between the local population and local authorities will also be fostered in order to make the collection and use of public funds more transparent, local authorities’ behaviour more accountable and thus improve service delivery.

Object 121 – 132 of 1194