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

Object 13 – 24 of 1190

Water and Sanitation for Syrian Refugees and Their Lebanese Hosts

a 1000 litre water tank

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020

The crisis in Syria has a significant impact in Lebanon. The country is home to over one million Syrian refugees. Basic needs are unmet due to this unprecedented population growth and lack of public facilities. The SDC supports a project of the Lebanese Red Cross on water and sanitation for Syrian refugees and host communities in the Akkar Governorate bordering Syria.

Country/region Period Budget
Lebanon

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020


CHF 1'100'000



Improving safety for the Croatian population in mine-infested areas

A deminer removes mines in a meadow

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024

Mines and other explosive remnants of war are a dangerous legacy from Croatia's 1991–96 war and they continue to pose a threat to the local population. Integrating mine victims economically and socially is also a challenge for Croatian society. As part of its enlargement contribution, Switzerland has provided CHF 3 million to support mine-clearance measures and improve the situation for mine victims and their families. The goal is to improve living conditions for people living in mine-infested areas.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Removal of land mines and explosive remnants of war
Enhanced security and safety

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024


CHF 3'000'000



Support for international R&D cooperation in Croatia

The founder and managing director of lighting company REFLECTA presenting his lighting project with the aid of a flipchart.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022

Croatia ranks above average in terms of investment in new technologies compared to other EU member states but lags behind in the development of new products. Innovation is a key driver of economic development and therefore important to a country with a high unemployment rate. Switzerland is therefore contributing CHF 1 million to support Croatia's Eurostars programme. This programme promotes international R&D cooperation between Croatian SMEs and European partners.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022


CHF 1'000'000



Maximum cooperation needed to manage glacier melt in Central Asia

Two men working with specialist equipment on a glacier.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020

How to meet the needs of Central Asia’s 68 million inhabitants for water while respecting the glaciers overlooking Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan? The SDC’s project is building on voluntary regional cooperation and rigorous scientific monitoring of the changes taking place in the glaciers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Water diplomacy and security
Water sector policy
Water resources conservation
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'200'000



Higher Income in the South Caucasus Thanks to Competitive Agricultural Products

A man in a protective suit holding a honeycomb full of bees on the roof of a high-rise building.

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021

Livestock farming is an important source of income for a large part of the rural population in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But many farmers live from subsistence farming and produce just enough food for their own needs. The aims of the project are to strengthen smallholder farms and to provide them with access to markets. This way, farmers can sell their honey, meat, cheese and wool products, and sustainably increase their incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural development

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021


CHF 5'100'000



Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organisations

Reform and development of markets, value chains and producers’ organisations, occupied Palestinian territory

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021

Private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness in the Palestinian occupied territory (oPT) can play a key role in building a resilient economy towards economic growth and in safeguarding rights and entitlements to natural resources and markets. This program aims at improving income and productivity in the agriculture sector, through improved access to markets, increased share of local market, enhanced competitiveness and profitability of Palestinian agribusinesses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy and administrative management
Agricultural co-operatives

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021


CHF 3'000'000



Access to drinking water: a challenge in Tajikistan

Three children around a fountain.

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021

In Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia, half of the 8.5 million inhabitants do not have access to drinking water. In mountainous and rural regions, the figure reaches 80%. This situation poses a serious risk to public health. The SDC's project on 'Safe drinking water and sanitation management in Tajikistan' (SWSMT) focuses on access to drinking water and sanitation in the east of the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tajikistan
Governance
Water
Decentralisation
Water supply
Water sanitation
Public sector policy
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Basic drinking water supply
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Basic sanitation
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public sector policy and administrative management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021


CHF 5'300'000



An attractive labour market for young Kosovars

A young man working on an electrical system.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

The project « Enhancing Youth Employment » is aimed at improving job opportunities for young people in Kosovo, a population segment particularly impacted by unemployment. By connecting employers and job seekers, and by training young people in the skills in demand on the labour market, the project is helping to reduce unemployment and drive economic growth.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Vocational training
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'570'000



Better public services in fourteen of Benin’s communes

A woman and a man shake hands in front of a sign with Switzerland's logo and the names of the two towns involved in building the bridge.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Efforts to decentralise public services in Benin are paying off. The SDC is focusing on two of the country’s departments. Since 2008, when the first support programme was launched, significant progress has been seen on the ground.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Governance
Decentralisation
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 8'500'000



Effective management and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

: A woman doctor examining a woman patient.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. On an international average 60% of deaths are linked to NCDs.  This rate is often much higher in low-to-middle-income countries.  This is the case in Kyrgyzstan where cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes account for 80% of deaths

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kyrgyzstan
Health
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening
HEALTH
HEALTH
Basic health care
Health policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 4'810'000



Sustainably managed pastures and healthy animals: Mongolia's 'green gold'

A woman holding a blue bucket tends to a herd of yak in a vast grassland landscape.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the number of livestock in Mongolia has nearly tripled – to the detriment of the country's grasslands. The SDC is supporting an array of measures to encourage the sustainable use of pastureland, and to improve animal health and the marketing of livestock products. These efforts are helping to safeguard the livelihoods of nomadic herder families.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural land resources
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
Agricultural policy
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural land resources
Agricultural co-operatives
Agricultural policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'776'000



Better training to facilitate the integration of youngsters in rural areas into the labour market

Three young Nigerien men walking through a plantation.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

The SDC is committed to improving the education and vocational training system in Niger. Over 1.5 million young people living in rural areas currently have no access to education or vocational training. Their future ability to enter the labour market depends on good-quality basic education and vocational training tailored to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Niger

Dosso and Maradi

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Primary education
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
EDUCATION
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management
Primary education

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 14'500'000


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