Emergency relief: Swiss Humanitarian Aid's main mission

A father and daughter beside a fruit and vegetable stall in a refugee camp.
In Iraq millions of people displaced by war have turned to refugee camps for food and water. © SDC

Switzerland provides emergency relief in situations of crisis, conflict and disaster, with full respect for universal humanitarian principles. The main goal of such operations is to save lives and alleviate suffering. The Humanitarian Aid of SDC places the needs of the affected people at the centre of its activities and advocates for their own involvement in humanitarian efforts.

SDC Focus

Emergency relief is the primary mission of the SDC's humanitarian aid activities performed on Switzerland's behalf. This means providing food and drinking water as well as emergency medical care for people in need. It also includes temporary shelter for refugees and internally displaced persons. Ensuring protection for the most vulnerable is a priority of the Humanitarian Aid of SDC.

Needs-based action

Switzerland provides emergency relief where:

  • there are major humanitarian needs and a large number of people face serious difficulties as a result of a crisis, armed conflict, natural or technological disaster or an epidemic;
  • the local, national and regional capacities are lacking or unable to cope with such crisis situations and their consequences.

In order to assess the needs and decide where and when to act, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC is guided by appeals for assistance from the states concerned, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) and/or the relevant UN bodies. It also draws on the observations of Swiss representations abroad and various NGOs.

The Humanitarian Aid of SDC responds rapidly on the ground, guided by the specific needs and in accordance with the fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Emergency relief tools

Switzerland's emergency relief activities take a variety of forms:

  • deployment of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit experts
  • distribution of food and basic necessities
  • disbursement of funds to partner organisations working in the crisis zones
  • continued international advocacy and on the ground to ensure access to humanitarian aid for the victims.

Background

Humanitarian challenges have multiplied over the years and become more and more complex. Crises, conflicts and disasters are increasing in number, scope, intensity and duration. Such situations often result in violations of international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. In brief, the humanitarian system is reaching its limits, and the biggest victims are civilian populations. Millions of people have fled suffering and violence worldwide, and such migratory flows and their consequences are also being felt in Europe. But it is always the countries of origin and their neighbouring states that bear most of the burden.

Support for local stakeholders

Switzerland advocates for international efforts that bolster the affected countries' own local, national and regional mechanisms for humanitarian action in situations of crisis or disaster. Only through such an approach can these countries and communities build the resilience needed to withstand future disasters and instability.

Transitioning to reconstruction and rehabilitation

Emergency relief measures generally come to an end when all humanitarian needs are under control and the authorities of the country concerned are again in a position to provide basic services to the local population. Once this has been achieved, humanitarian efforts can concentrate on reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Where a natural disaster has caused total devastation, or in the case of a prolonged crisis such as in Syria, aid programmes should include incentives for local populations to pursue their development autonomously in the medium to long term. Within the SDC, the specialists in humanitarian aid and in development cooperation often work together for the welfare of beneficiaries.

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 - 31.10.2018

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 - 31.10.2018


CHF 900'000




African Risk Capacity (ARC)

01.12.2016 - 31.08.2019

The African Risk Capacity is a specialised agency of the African Union to help African countries improve their capacities to better respond to extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, therefore protecting the food security of their populations. It uses modern finance mechanisms such as risk pooling to create pan-African climate response systems. SDC co-finances the expansion of this insurance scheme to new countries, including the development of contingency plans that will allow insurance pay-outs to countries in case of drought or floods related catastrophes.


South Sudan, DCA: Educational Support in Area 1

01.09.2016 - 31.08.2018

The two civil wars fought in Area 1 as well as prolonged marginalization in the education system have deprived local communities from access to education for decades. In response, Local Partner 1 (LP1) has worked with Area 1 communities since 1995 and supported the introduction of a new Kenyan curriculum. Improved access and quality of education for all in Area 1 is both a basic human right and a powerful tool to address the cycles of poverty and conflict affecting the communities.


Strengthening and sustaining results for children and women in fragile, conflict-affected as well as climate and disaster-prone contexts

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2018

UNICEF through its 138 Country offices (CO) supports governments (especially at local level) and partners to reduce risk and strengthen resilience. To achieve this, UNICEF is currently increasing its focus on fragility and supports disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA) and peacebuilding (PB) while also promoting a multi-hazard approach to Risk Informed Programming (RIP).


Caritas Maroc : Promouvoir l’exercice des droits humains des migrants au Maroc

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2019

Morocco is a country of transit and destination for migrants and refugees, 20’000 of which live on the margins of society, despite Morocco in 2014 adopting a first ever migration strategy, promising the respect of human rights and access to public services. Caritas enables 3’000 vulnerable migrants per year - mainly women and children - to translate access rights into access reality, and coaches public and civil society service providers to care for the specific needs of the new clients.


Secondment Fund Sudan 2016-17

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018

Despite years of assistance, the humanitarian needs remain acute in several fragile regions of Sudan. This is due to continued armed conflict, lack of human security – especially that of children –, poor food security and livelihoods, and very rudimentary basic services. This consequently leads to ever increasing internal displacement and multiple emergencies. The deployment of Swiss experts (secondees) to multilateral organizations strengthens the effectiveness and the efficiency of the humanitarian response, and bolsters measures for early recovery and better resilience.


Renforcement du Croissant Rouge Tunisien en tant qu'acteur de changement

15.12.2015 - 30.06.2018

Disposant d'un réseau d'envirion 10'000 bénévoles, le Croissant Rouge Tunisien (CRT) constitue l'organisation caritative la plus importante en Tunisie. Ce projet vise à développer les capacités du CRT à travers le développement organisationnel, le renforcement des capacités des ressources humaines et le développement institutionnel afin qu'il puisse répondre à son mandat de manière fiable et professionnelle. Le partage des responsabilités entre le Gouvernement et le CRT comme acteur de la société civile et auxiliaire de l'État permettra une performance et un engagement plus importants par exemple dans la migration. 


Capacity building programme in support of the Palestinian National Authority – Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures

01.12.2015 - 31.12.2018

The single phase project seeks to develop national sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures responsive to World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements, contributing to enhance domestic and international trust and demand for Palestinian agriculture and agro-industrial products. The intervention will increase potential for Palestinian agro-economic growth and ultimately contribute to increase income of farmers. Last but not least, the project will contribute to develop and create pre-conditions for the implementation of a national food safety strategy, enhancing food sovereignty in Palestine.


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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