Press releases, 16.06.2023

A celebration is in order: for half a century, the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) has been the face of Switzerland's humanitarian aid, providing assistance worldwide before, during and after crises of all kinds. Today, it is impossible to imagine Switzerland's international cooperation without it.

Currently, more than 130 members of the SHA are working for Swiss Humanitarian Aid in over 90 countries. The SHA's tasks are as diverse as the needs of the people it serves. SHA members can be found in war zones in Ukraine and Syria, but also in key positions at the UN in Geneva or New York. The SHA helps in crises, conflicts and after disasters. Known to many for its emergency aid after natural disasters, most of its activities focus on contexts involving long-term crises, where SHA members are often deployed for months or years in regions such as the Horn of Africa or the Middle East.

Embodying Switzerland's deep-rooted humanitarian tradition

As a militia corps, the SHA is part of the SDC, which is in turn part of the FDFA. It consists of around 550 members of all ages from all parts of the country. "The highly professional voluntary commitment of SHA members embodies our humanitarian tradition and is Switzerland's global calling card," said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the SHA's anniversary celebration in Bern. "I am enormously impressed by the SHA's performance and proud of this Swiss institution dedicated to humanitarian aid," he added. For 50 years, the SHA's militia system has made it possible to rapidly and flexibly mobilise a wide range of skills stemming from the world of academia as well as from applied fields such as logistics. The SHA always incorporates locally available expertise into its operations in order to adapt the aid to the people and conditions on the ground and to ensure the sustainability of its work.

Here's to the next 50 years

Today's 50th anniversary SHA jubilee brought currently serving and former members together to celebrate. They reviewed past successes, looked at current operations, and outlined what the SHA will need over the next 50 years. Dominik Stillhart, who has been the head of Humanitarian Aid and the SHA for about a hundred days, said: "I look forward to writing the future chapters of the SHA's rich history together with all its members."

The countless crises of the past five decades have become increasingly complex. Humanitarian needs and challenges have expanded since the SHA was founded. Today, the SHA has 11 widely differing areas of expertise covering water treatment and sanitation, structural engineering, disaster preparedness, and medical care. In order to be well equipped for future challenges, the SHA is constantly evolving and is always on the lookout for suitable specialists who want to use their knowledge to help people in need abroad.

Further information:

Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA)
Working for the SHA

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last update 19.07.2023

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FDFA Communication

Federal Palace West
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