Switzerland operates a vast humanitarian aid programme in Yemen and supports the UN-efforts for a sustainable peace.
History of bilateral relations
Before the unification of Yemen, Switzerland had recognised North Yemen in 1948 and South Yemen in 1967.
Switzerland has maintained diplomatic relations with North Yemen since 1972 and with South Yemen since 1973.
In 1990 Switzerland recognised Yemen after unification.
Today, Switzerland's interests in Yemen are represented by its embassy in Muscat, while consular matters come under the Swiss embassy in Riyadh. Yemen, meanwhile, has an embassy in Switzerland, in Geneva.
On 14 October 2020 the Federal Council adopted a specific strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA Strategy) for the 2021–24 period. It identifies five thematic priorities: peace, security and human rights; migration and protection of people in need; sustainable development; economic affairs, finance, science; and digitalisation and new technologies.
These priorities are weighted differently across the various regions and countries. In the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, priority thematic areas for Switzerland are regional stability and security, economic and financial cooperation, and sustainable natural resource management.
Switzerland also wishes to support the Gulf countries in their efforts to professionalise their international cooperation, especially with regard to South-South cooperation and compliance with international development standards in the areas of climate change, health and water management.
Switzerland's priorities in Yemen
The MENA Strategy 2021–24 identifies the following priorities for Switzerland in Yemen: 1) peace, security and human rights; 2) migration and protection of people in need.
1) Peace, security and human rights
Switzerland is expanding its network of contacts with relevant actors in Yemen and is making an active contribution to the UN-led peace process, with a particular view to the seat it is seeking on the UN Security Council.
Switzerland hosted peace talks on Yemen in 2015, and in 2020, it hosted talks between the Yemeni parties that led to the release of 1,080 detainees, under the auspices of the ICRC.
2) Migration and protection of people in need
In Yemen, armed conflict has had a devastating impact on the population and has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. The country is a priority operational area for Swiss Humanitarian Aid. Switzerland is pursuing its humanitarian work in the areas of water, sanitation, hygiene and food security. It is also working to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and protection of civilians.
In 2017, 2018, 2019 (in Geneva) and 2021 (virtual), Switzerland organised a humanitarian donor conference for Yemen, in conjunction with the UN and Sweden.
Other areas of cooperation
Education, training, research and innovation
Researchers and artists who are citizens of Yemen can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship.
Swiss nationals in Yemen
In 2020, there were 15 Swiss citizens living in Yemen.