Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)

In Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, SDC is working to provide protection and basic services for refugees and others in need, and to ensure sustainable water management. It promotes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and is working to ensure better operating conditions for humanitarian organisations in Syria.

Map of the region Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)
© FDFA

The conflicts in the Middle East are having a dramatic impact on the population: 

as a result of the Syrian conflict, more than 13 million people in Syria alone are dependent on humanitarian aid. More than six million Syrians have been displaced within the country, while millions more – over five million in all – have fled to neighbouring countries. Owing to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, more than eleven million people are directly reliant on humanitarian aid – practically a quarter of the entire population. Fighting within the country has driven more than three million people from their homes. 

The neighbouring countries have thus far shown extraordinary generosity towards the huge influx of refugees, but are fast approaching the limits of their capacity to take in any more.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Lebanese, Jordanian and Iraqi authorities to meet the basic needs of the refugees and the local population. 

The overarching aim of Switzerland in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is to contribute to peaceful and secure living conditions for people affected by conflict and other vulnerable groups, to reduce fragility and to resolve and prevent conflicts. 

SDC focuses its engagement on four action lines: cash and in-kind contributions to humanitarian and development organisations; implementation of its own projects (direct actions); secondments of technical experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to UN partner organisations; and the promotion of international coordination and humanitarian diplomacy.

Basic needs and services

Providing refugees and local populations with basic services 

The aim is to save lives and reduce the vulnerability of people affected by conflict and other groups at risk and to help them to improve their resilience. SDC’s engagement covers basic needs and access to services by providing emergency aid, food and shelter, but also through its support for education, work and income generation, legal advice and psychological care.

In order to ensure that the basic needs of refugees and local populations are met, the capacity of existing government and civil society service providers must be increased. In addition, measures must be implemented to help prevent future natural disasters and human-made crises and allow for an appropriate and timely response. 

Renovating schools in Jordan and Lebanon

Thanks to the work being done by Switzerland (with support from Liechtenstein) to renovate schools in Jordan and Lebanon, refugee children are able to attend school along with children from local communities in a safe, child-friendly environment. The project also aims to strengthen the children's sense of belonging to their own particular school and to help the Syrian refugee children integrate more fully. 

Protection

Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law

Switzerland's aim is to create an environment that gives protection to people affected by conflict and other vulnerable groups. To this end, it seeks dialogue with parties to the conflict as well as those affected by it, state and non-state. It promotes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, helps in the search for political solutions, and contributes to resolving existing conflicts and preventing new ones. 

Psychosocial support for children affected by conflict

In southern Lebanon, Switzerland is supporting a project of "Terre des hommes" (Lausanne), which provides Lebanese and refugee children with access to psychosocial care. The aim is to support the children in processing what they have experienced, for example displacement, separation from their family, violence, abuse, early marriage or recruitment by armed groups.

Water

Sustainable, conflict-sensitive water management

Providing conflict-affected people and other vulnerable groups with safe drinking water and sanitary facilities saves lives. The scarcity of water in the region requires sustainable, conflict-sensitive management of this resource, to allow for efficient food production and to prevent water-related disasters, be they natural or human-made.

Water supply in the Jerash refugee camp

In northern Jordan, Switzerland is supporting the construction of an underground sewage system and the restoration of the water supply system in the refugee camp of Jerash. The improved access to clean water and sustainable sanitation facilities will enhance the quality of life of the 25,000 Palestine refugees living in the camp.

Approach and partners

Using a coherent, whole-of-government approach, Switzerland is able to combine its strengths and is constantly evaluating the impact of its efforts in order to respond flexibly to changing conditions.

Switzerland's engagement in the Middle East is fulfilled by the following federal offices: the SDC Humanitarian Aid, the Human Security Division (HSD), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS). In addition, Switzerland makes use of its channels for maintaining external relations and capitalises on its role in international forums. It works closely with local authorities in the countries concerned, with other donor countries, international and multilateral organisations.

All programmes include a conflict-sensitive approach, follow the principles of good governance and integrate gender aspects. 

Switzerland's key partners in the region: 

  • national and local authorities in the countries concerned
  • international organisations: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • multilateral organisations: the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • local civil society organisations: the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee and the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq, among others
  • international NGOs: Terre des hommes and MEDAIR, among others

Background information Near East

Facts and figures
  Jordan Lebanon Syria Iraq  
Surface area 89'342 10'400 185'000 438’317 km2
Population 6.318 4.425 22.399 32.578 mill.
Annual population growth rate (since 1990) 2.2 1.0 2.0 2.5 %
Life expectancy at birth women / men 75.4 / 72.1 82.0 / 77.8 77.7 / 71.9 73.0 / 65.7 years
Adult illiteracy rate: women / men 6.1 / 2.3 .. 22.3 / 9.7 28.8 / 14.0 %
Gross Domestic Product GDP per capita 4'909.0 9'705.4 .. 6'625.2 USD
Percentage of population with less than 2 USD per day 1.6 .. .. .. %
Facts and figures

.. = figures not available

Source: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2014

Links

  • Information from the FDFA
    Representation website, travel advice (in DE, FR and IT only) and information about life in the country and bilateral relations

Switzerland and Lebanon

Switzerland and Jordan

Switzerland and Iraq

  • Travel information provided by fairunterwegs.org (de)
    Information provided by the travel portal, fairunterwegs.org, which is supported by the SDC, about fairness in interacting with people and nature while travelling

Syria

Lebanon

Jordan

Iraq

  • Background information provided by the BBC:

Syria

Lebanon

Jordan

Iraq

Current projects

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Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.

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Relief International: Providing educational opportunities for Syrian refugees in Za’atari and Azraq camps

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

SDC’s contribution will help to maintain essential education services provided by Relief International (RI) for Syrian refugee children and youth in Za’atari and Azraq camps especially after the drastic funding cuts announced by UNICEF in June 2018. The project contributes to retain school-aged refugee children in the formal education system by providing support through: 1) Remedial Education services for in-school children with learning difficulties and 2) the certified drop-out programme for out-of-school children who can only go back to school if they complete the programme.



JOR Sanitation Solutions for Underserved Communities in Jordan

01.07.2017 - 30.06.2027

In Jordan water supply from conventional water sources has come to its limits. Appropriate sanitation solutions will minimize the risks for public health and reduce the hazards of environmental pollution. Additionally these will cut the costs for sanitation operations and free resources for other purposes. Thus the project will contribute to the much needed decoupling of population and economic growth from resource consumption and pollution of the environment.


Sanitation Solutions for Underserved Communities in Jordan

01.07.2017 - 30.11.2021

The amount of water available from conventional sources in Jordan is decreasing dangerously, the population is increasing constantly and additional sources are needed urgently. By using treated wastewater as an alternative resource Jordan could reduce its dependence on fresh water. Proven Swiss expertise in the sanitation sector aims at increasing the efficiency of wastewater treatment systems and on turning wastewater streams into physical and financial resources. This will not only provide additional water but also reduce health risks and protect groundwater.


Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.

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IRQ Oxfam – Integrated WASH and Protection response to conflict affected communities in Diyala governorate

01.09.2017 - 31.12.2019

A majority of people living in rural northern Diyala do not have access to potable water which results in communities utilizing unsafe sources like rivers and irrigation channels. The lack of solid waste management systems further aggravates the poor health conditions within this area. This project aims at reducing water and sanitation related risks and increasing access to clean water for IDPs, returnees and host communities living in the districts of Kifri and Khanaqin. It also helps particularly vulnerable families access protection services.

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Water and Sanitation for Syrian Refugees and Their Lebanese Hosts

a 1000 litre water tank

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020

The crisis in Syria has a significant impact in Lebanon. The country is home to over one million Syrian refugees. Basic needs are unmet due to this unprecedented population growth and lack of public facilities. The SDC supports a project of the Lebanese Red Cross on water and sanitation for Syrian refugees and host communities in the Akkar Governorate bordering Syria.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
Disaster prevention and preparedness

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020


CHF 1'100'000



Decent Work for Migrants in the Middle East

15.07.2019 - 30.06.2023

This program contributes to decent work opportunities for migrants and refugees in the Middle East which is one of the largest migrant hosting regions globally due to economic demands and displacement from conflict. It complements the focus on Asian migrants with migrants from Africa and seek closer partnership with the private sector. Due to its relevant expertise and experience in decent work and fair recruitment, Switzerland is well placed to contribute to an improved protection and an enhanced wellbeing of migrant workers and self-reliance for refugees, to maximize the productive potential of migration, and to counter irregular and unsafe migration.


Small Actions Credit Line (Quick Impact)

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2021

The Small Actions Credit Line (Quick Impact) is a humanitarian instrument of the Swiss Embassy's cooperation office that allows a fast response to requests for moderate one-time funding of limited duration. It enables the Embassy's cooperation office in Lebanon to fund small scale development or humanitarian activities that addresses needs of refugees, IDPs, vulnerable migrants or communities at risk, supports the strategic strengthening of the portfolio of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Middle East and which contribute to the visibility of Swiss presence in the region.


LEB – Improved Water Resources Monitoring and Integrated Water Resources Management in the North of Lebanon

01.07.2017 - 30.11.2020

For over five years now, the Syria crisis is continuing to affect middle-income neighbouring countries. As a result, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The weak governance of the Government has been worsened with the burden of the refugees from Syria and Palestine who use the same overstretched infrastructure and public services. The project aims at enabling the water authorities to better manage the water sector for the benefit of the vulnerable communities in the North of the country.


Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

a classroom with young female students

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.

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