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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Remittance Grant Facility

01.08.2016 - 31.07.2020

The Remittance Grant Facility will be set up with the Ministry of Finance of Ghana as a challenge fund. It will provide grants to private sector actors and support the design and pilot testing of innovative products and services for remittances.


Indonesian-Swiss Partnership for Intellectual Property, Phase II

01.08.2016 - 30.06.2020

Intellectual property rights support economic competitiveness and innovation. With its rich cultural diversity and 56 million SMEs, Indonesia has a strong potential to strengthen its creative industries. ISIP-2 supports Indonesia’s strategy to bolster innovation and income generation by improving stakeholder awareness, access and benefits from a robust Intellectual Property framework.



Regional Biotrade Project Southeast Asia

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2020

The 'Regional Biotrade Project Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Myanmar)' proposes to tackle the opportunities and challenges in the three countries of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot by following a country specific market demand oriented approach, along Biotrade value-chains following the ethical Biotrade principles.


Green Building EDGE standard Program

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2019

Buildings consume a large share of energy and water resources and are responsible for up to 20% of global CO2 emissions. This program, implemented by the IFC, aims at supporting the construction sector in several SECO priority countries to design greener buildings. By reducing energy and water use of buildings, operational costs for house owners will decrease.


Financial Sector Modernization Project

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2020

In the current economic crisis affecting Azerbaijan, strengthening financial sector regulation has become an urgent priority. Enhanced banking supervision and a strengthened financial safety net, streamlined resolution of non-performing loans and effective administration of bank resolution can contribute to economic stabilization in Azerbaijan.


SECO Support for the FIAS Strategy FY

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2021

FIAS (Facility for Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank) operates at the intersection of government and the private sector to ensure that the investment climate - reflected by laws, regulations, trade structures etc. - enables companies to grow without unnecessary hurdles. Ultimately, FIAS aims to build dynamic and resilient economies that grow at the benefit of everybody through increased investment, job-creation and productivity. Thereby, FIAS contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals.


Colombia + Competitiva Program and IDB Colombia Sostenible Facility

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2020

SECO aims at supporting the Colombian government in its agenda to a) strengthen the competitiveness of its economy, which is crucial for the OECD accession and b) create economic perspectives and support sustainable agricultural practices, which contribute to lasting peace.


Transformative Carbon Asset Facility

30.06.2016 - 31.12.2029

The goal of the Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) is helping developing countries implement their plans to cut emissions by working with them to create new instruments associated with reduced greenhouse gas emission reductions, including those achieved through policy actions.


Small Business Initiative

01.06.2016 - 31.12.2020

The Small Business Initiative (SBI) seeks to increase access of SMEs to financial and advisory services, and to simplify their business environment. This will be achieved by providing an integrated support package consisting of financing, business advisory services and policy dialogue. SMEs should thereby become a driver of growth and increase their respective share in GDP and employment. A particular focus is put on economic inclusion, this being equality of opportunities (specifically youth, gender and disadvantaged regions). The SBI is implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Mekong Urban Flood Proofing and Drainage Program

26.05.2016 - 31.12.2019

Implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Mekong Urban Flood Proofing and Drainage Program (Vietnam) aims to strengthen national capacities as well as standards and policies in the field of urban resilience, and to increase the resilience to adverse climate change related events of three selected cities.


Sustainable Energy Action Fund

11.05.2016 - 07.11.2019

The objectives of this Fund are to enhance the sustainable energy management at the municipal level in Romania by improving municipal infrastructure, building capacity and raising awareness about energy efficiency and renewable energy in order to increase living standards, promote economic development and provide a response to climate change.

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