Switzerland provides emergency relief during crises, conflicts and natural disasters in accordance with universal humanitarian principles. The main goal of its operations is to save lives and alleviate suffering. Swiss Humanitarian Aid puts the needs of the affected people at the heart of its activities and advocates for their inclusion in humanitarian efforts.
Emergency relief is the main mission of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid within the SDC. This includes ensuring the supply of drinking water, food and emergency medical care for people in need. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid also provides temporary shelter for refugees and IDPs and works to ensure protection for the most vulnerable.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid responds rapidly. Its activities are based on needs and are in accordance with the universal principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Switzerland provides emergency relief when
the humanitarian needs are significant and a large number of people are facing an emergency caused by a crisis, armed conflict, natural or technological disaster, or even an epidemic;
the local, national and regional capacities are lacking or insufficient to overcome the crises and their impacts.
In order to assess needs and decide if and where to act, Swiss Humanitarian Aid is guided by appeals for assistance by the states concerned, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) and the relevant UN bodies. It also draws on observations made by the Swiss representations abroad and various NGOs.
Emergency relief tools
Switzerland's activities in this field take a variety of forms:
deployment of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit specialists
distribution of food and basic necessities
contribution of funds to partner organisations working in the crisis locations
Supporting the empowerment of local actors
Switzerland advocates for international efforts that bolster the local, national and regional mechanisms for humanitarian action of the affected countries in the event of crisis or disaster. This approach is crucial to enabling these countries and the local population to develop their capacity to face such instability in the long term – what is known as 'resilience'.
Transitioning to reconstruction and rehabilitation
Emergency relief measures are stopped when all humanitarian needs are under control and the authorities of the country concerned are once again in a position to provide basic services to the local population. Swiss Humanitarian Aid continues to provide assistance during conflicts or disasters in a second phase by supporting reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.