Refugees and internally displaced persons – humanitarian aid and protection of civilians

The SDC provides support for refugees and internally displaced persons. It deploys experts to the field and provides NGOs and international humanitarian agencies with funding. It also works with local authorities.

SDC focus

A major part of the SDC's humanitarian aid programmes involves providing guidance and support for refugees and internally displaced persons.

Three quarters of all refugees are concentrated in developing countries, which do not have the means to support large numbers of them or offer them effective protection. Those arriving by sea – known as boat people – can neither continue their journey nor return home. Their illegal status exposes them to threats of physical violence, theft, rape and human trafficking.

Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons have not crossed any international border, but rather have been forced to flee within their own country. As a result, they find themselves under the responsibility of the government and local authorities concerned, which are not always able or willing to exercise their responsibilities in this regard.  In such cases the international community provides them with protection in the form of direct aid, or by creating an appropriate legal framework.

Background

The SDC's immediate response to migratory movements triggered by a crisis takes the form of emergency assistance and reconstruction. But the complex, global phenomenon of migration requires many other kinds of response.

Deployment of experts

Humanitarian aid can come in a number of forms, including the deployment of experts to protect victims of armed conflict, support for local authorities and even the distribution of cash to host families taking in refugees, so that they can provide them with better living conditions.

The SDC makes experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) available to the UNHCR. The UNHCR benefited from the services of SHA specialists in a variety of sectors, including water and sanitation, law and the construction of shelters. In 2016, 24 SHA experts carried out missions for the UNHCR in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

The SDC's involvement is thus based on an interdepartmental approach, «Protection in the region». The aim of this approach is to provide prompt and effective protection for refugees in their region of origin and to help the countries of first refuge to guarantee the protection they require. The SDC’s commitment in the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East – two contexts with a significant number of displaced populations – reflects this approach.

Rebuilding beyond the crisis

A growing phenomenon

Instability in many parts of the world causes hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homeland. The UNHCR estimates that almost 61.4 million people – refugees, stateless persons, persons displaced internally by conflicts or wishing to return home – will require its protection and assistance in 2016.

Involvement in Syria

Switzerland has been providing humanitarian aid and protection for population groups affected by the Syrian crisis since 2011. The SDC provides them with assistance through direct operations carried out by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) and through substantial financial contributions to the multilateral aid efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies and NGOs on the ground.

Switzerland's commitment in Syria

Middle East

Current projects

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Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) – Country-based Pooled Fund (CBPF)

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

The Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) is part of multilateral contributions for a Country based Pooled Fund (CBPF) that mobilizes and channels resources to humanitarian partners to respond to the humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The Fund operates within the parameters of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), with the objective of expanding the delivery of humanitarian assistance by focusing on critical priorities and needs.


Colombia: MIRE+, Assistance to Victims of Violence

01.10.2023 - 31.03.2025

The humanitarian crisis in Colombia continues despite growing efforts towards peace. Armed groups fighting for territory and valuable natural resources inflict extreme harm on rural and ethnic communities. In line with the Swiss interest to respond to humanitarian crises, SDC remains dedicated to supporting these communities, enhancing their individual and collective resilience. The project integrates humanitarian action with a developmental and peace orientation (nexus).


MiRiDew - Migrant Rights and Decent Work

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2026

Remittances sent home by over 4 million migrant workers have significantly contributed to the economic development of Nepal. The proposed project will enhance the capacities of the Government of Nepal and strengthen mechanisms to better protect the rights of workers abroad. There will be a special focus on women’s need and the adverse effects of climate change exacerbating the vulnerability of migrants. The project capitalises on Switzerland’s longstanding engagement on labour migration in Nepal.


Moldova – Making the Most of Migration

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2026

With one third of Moldova’s population living abroad, the current country`s leadership is firmly committed to harness the development potential of migration. Previous Swiss-supported interventions resulted in a unique mobilization of Moldovan migrants committed to contribute to the development of their home communities. Switzerland will further support Moldova to ensure the sustainability of diaspora engagement models and to improve evidence-based governance through reliable demographic statistics, including migration trends.


Global solutions for migration-related challenges

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2026

Switzerland has a strong interest in multilateral migration processes that are inclusive and that take into account local actors, in particular migrant (women) voices, to foster an enabling environment for migrants to effectively contribute to sustainable development. Switzerland supports multi-stakeholder involvement in global processes on migration and pilots innovative, locally-led solutions that are brought to the global level.


Ashshash – for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.06.2023 - 31.05.2027

Switzerland has an interest in ensuring that international migration is regular, secure, and respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The programme will support men and women who have escaped trafficking to reintegrate into society, raise awareness on the perils of irregular migration and improve public and private capacities to deliver services to victims of trafficking. The intervention contributes to Switzerland’s political dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at the global level.


Réinsertion des détenu.e.s en Algérie

01.04.2023 - 31.12.2026

Le projet « Réinsertion des détenu.e.s en Algérie » contribue à la promotion de la réinsertion des détenu.e.s les plus vulnérables dans le tissu social algérien, dans un but déclaré de renforcer la cohésion sociale, une priorité pour le gouvernement. Le projet propose un accompagnement à la Direction Générale de l’Administration Pénitentiaire et de la Réinsertion (DGAPR) pour la modernisation et l’optimisation de la prise en charge et de la formation des détenu.e.s, dans le but de faciliter leur réinsertion sociale.


Legal Protection of Women and Children in the MENA region: An Integrated Approach

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2026

Despite significant protection efforts in Middle East (ME) so far, major gaps remain particularly for complex legal-protection cases. This intervention in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and North-West Syria will address selected complex legal-protection issues through integrated legal assistance and protection casework, and aims to improve the overall protection environment in the ME through development of information resources, capacity building for local actors and awareness raising for authorities. 


Support to the Programme of Work and Budget of the OECD Development Center 2023 - 2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

The Development Center (DEV) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a policy-oriented institution which conducts studies and provides platforms for dialogues and knowledge sharing between OECD and non OECD countries. Switzerland’s contribution to DEV is an investment towards sustainable policy development and reforms as the expertise provided by the DEV brings developing countries closer to relevant OECD standards.


Program Contribution for Fondation Terre des hommes 2023-2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

The program of the Terre des hommes Foundation (TdhF) aims to sustainably reduce child mortality and morbidity and to secure access to health, sanitation and clean water for mothers and children (0-18 years) in severe poverty. Children in contexts of migration, conflict and disasters, and child victims of violence are better protected. International standards in child-friendly justice are promoted. Humanitarian interventions in fragile contexts, combined with poverty reduction and sustainable development are promoted through innovative work with children and youths.


Contribution to UNHCR Programme Budget 2023-2024 (unearmarked)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

UNHCR is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners due to its unique mandate by the General Assembly of United Nations to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, refugee returnees, and stateless persons. The strategic direction 2022-26 concretise the overall mandate of UNHCR for the upcoming years. Contributing to these directions allows Switzerland to achieve in particular the human development goal defined in the Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation for 2021-24.


Contribution to UNHCR Programme Budget 2023-2024 (earmarked)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

UNHCR is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners due to its unique mandate by the General Assembly of United Nations to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, refugee returnees, and stateless persons. The strategic direction 2022-26 concretise the overall mandate of UNHCR for the upcoming years. Contributing to these directions allows Switzerland to achieve in particular the human development goal defined in the Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation for 2021-24.

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