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

Primary Health Care

01.01.2023 - 31.10.2024

After years of underinvestment in the social sectors and decades of civil war, access to basic services is low, in particular in the rural areas of the southeast of Myanmar. This project aims to improve people’s health through a primary health care approach in selected townships of the region, both in Government and Ethnic Armed Group controlled areas, strengthening basic services, empowering communities and supporting convergence of health systems.


Planned project

Retain Access in Afghanistan (RAA)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2030

The security situation in Afghanistan remains a major concern for humanitarian and development actors. To continue their vital work in favour of the poor and vulnerable, they depend on reliable security reports and advisory services, on independent analyses of political events and trends, and on physical access to remote and conflict-affected areas. Through the Retain Access in Afghanistan Programme, the SDC will continue its support to three organisations that provide these essential services under a programmatic approach, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus.


Planned project

FutureLife-Now!

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2030

‘FutureLife now! enhances primary HIV prevention and support treatment among young people. It will operate through schools and education systems and create synergies with health and climate change in line with Agenda 2030 and the goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. SDC’s longstanding commitment, acknowledged by SADC[1] Member States, is unique. It offers a distinct comparative advantage over short-term programs and is a prerequisite for systemic and positive behavioral change.

[1] Southern African Development Community (SADC)


Financement des fonds agricoles nationaux du Bénin (FinAgri)

01.12.2022 - 30.11.2030

Au Bénin, il n’existe pas de dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole (agriculteurs, éleveurs, artisans et entreprises agricoles). Par la présente initiative, la DDC veut soutenir l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place des dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques.


Planned project

Creating Job Opportunities for All in Macedonia

01.11.2022 - 31.12.2028

This project will facilitate employment for vulnerable groups, by introducing appropriate active labour market measures, improving the capacities of responsible stakeholders to coordinate employment measures, and sensitizing and incentivising the private sector. lt contributes to ease the risk of vulnerable groups to fall into poverty, and enhances their social inclusion. Roma and people with disabilities are the main target group as they are disproportionally affected by high unemployment in Macedonia.


Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.10.2022 - 28.02.2029

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.


Planned project

Skills for Employment Tanzania – SET

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2029

This multi-layered program aims at enhancing prospects of gainful youth (self-) employment through a contribution to improved access to agricultural skills, and cross sectorial support to relevance and quality of Vocational Skills Development (VSD) by fostering existing institutions. Focus is placed on the coordination of skills providers and market players and on innovative solutions. The aim is to generate wide impact in order to significantly address the needs in VSD, particularly those of women.


Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’insécurité alimentaire touche près du ¼ de la population du Mali. La DDC veut renforcer les capacités institutionnelles et organisationnelles du dispositif national de sécurité alimentaire en vue d’améliorer la prévention et la gestion des crises conjoncturelles et accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle.


Planned project

Appui à la décentralisation financière en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.06.2022 - 31.05.2026

En Afrique de l’Ouest, faute de ressources locales suffisantes, les collectivités territoriales ne sont pas en mesure de répondre aux besoins de base de la population. Aux côtés de l’Allemagne et de la France, la Suisse soutien la mise en œuvre de la stratégie régionale de décentralisation financière de l’Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, visant une augmentation des transferts vers les collectivités territoriales et une amélioration de la fiscalité locale, au bénéfice de près de 112 millions d’habitants.


Participation des femmes dans le processus de paix, de sécurité et de relèvement au Mali

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2031

La Suisse s’engage au Mali pour une participation plus significative des femmes dans le processus de paix. Par l’intermédiaire de ONU-Femmes, les soutiens directs à des initiatives de la société civile malienne seront complétés par la réalisation du Plan d’Action National pour la mise en œuvre de la Résolution 1325 de l’ONU, concernant la participation de femmes dans les processus de paix et les garanties de sécurité. Le programme contribue ainsi à la stabilisation de la sous-région


Planned project

Transition redevable pour la société tunisienne (TRUST)

01.03.2022 - 28.02.2028

L’intervention contribue à l’émergence d’un système de redevabilité durable, veillant au respect de l’Etat de droit, favorisant la réactivité, l’efficacité et la confiance des citoyennes et des citoyens dans les institutions publiques. Elle soutient de manière ciblée les capacités de partenaires publics et de la société civile à exercer leurs rôles dans la régulation, la surveillance et le contrôle de l’activité publique par une approche transversale et complémentaire aux soutiens existants.


Planned project

Appui à la décentralisation et à la participation citoyenne au Burkina Faso

01.03.2022 - 30.09.2026

La décentralisation permet une meilleure transparence et efficacité dans la gestion des affaires publiques locales. Elle facilite la prise en main des actions de développement par les citoyens. Depuis 2006, le Burkina Faso est organisé en 351 communes et en 13 régions avec actuellement 18'525 élu(e)s locaux, qui manquent de ressources et de capacités pour répondre à leurs responsabilités et aux besoins des citoyens. La Suisse accompagne des communes et 3 régions à jouer leur rôle de fournisseurs de services publics et à mieux gérer les affaires locales dans l’intérêt des communautés.

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