While Swiss Humanitarian Aid has already committed CHF 9 million to date to assist victims of the Ebola epidemic, in particular by sending medical equipment to the field, the Federal Council plans to free up an additional CHF 20 million. Switzerland's commitment in this context is focused on three priority areas: combating propagation of the virus through treatment and prevention, strengthening the health-care systems of affected countries and relieving the social and economic impact of the epidemic in these countries.
The remaining CHF 20 million will be used to support people affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq. It will provide assistance to refugees in neighbouring countries as well as to people who have left their homes for safer places within the two countries concerned. Many of these people have no protection against winter conditions. Switzerland's additional humanitarian contribution – following on from the CHF 115 million or so already freed up for these two crises since March 2011 – will help those concerned to survive the winter as well as assisting host communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to look after the refugees.
The humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq are at the United Nations' highest level of emergency, along with the Central African Republic and South Sudan. With the Ebola epidemic, as well as the armed conflict in Ukraine and the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, resources from the international community are being stretched.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid has responded simultaneously to all these crises through direct actions, financial contributions to its partners such as the ICRC, and the deployment of experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to UN agencies. However, additional resources are being requested from Switzerland and other states to assist the victims.
To obtain the CHF 40 million required for international assistance, the Federal Council will ask Parliament for a supplementary credit of CHF 17.5 million. The remaining CHF 22.5 million will be provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), thanks to a reorientation of planned activities.
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