Support of the Confederation for the people affected by the war in Ukraine

Switzerland has been implementing various measures to support people affected by the war in Ukraine since 24 February 2022. These measures range from humanitarian aid, mine action and financial aid to the granting of protection status S for people from Ukraine seeking temporary protection in Switzerland. Between the start of the conflict and mid-February 2024, the federal government allocated around CHF 3 billion on such measures in Switzerland and abroad.

 Two pictures next to each other. In the left-hand picture, two men are loading boxes onto a goods train; in the right-hand picture, a person is searching a field for mines.
The delivery of relief supplies and support for humanitarian demining are among the measures that the Confederation is implementing to help people affected by the war in Ukraine. © FDFA/FSD

Switzerland focuses on providing support for the Ukrainian people where needs are most acute on the ground, drawing on its long-standing presence and experience in Ukraine which dates back to the country's reform efforts in the 1990s. It also works in particular to improve living standards for people, improve the efficiency of public services and promote sustainable economic development.

From Kyiv via Sumy and Lviv to Kharkiv: an interactive map shows the federal government's support for the people affected by the war in Ukraine. Click on the image above to access the map.

Around half of the Ukrainian population is currently dependent on humanitarian aid. This gives Switzerland's engagement there a strong humanitarian focus, although it is also aligned with the thematic priorities of the previous long-term cooperation programme in Ukraine. To this end, projects are aimed at joint and effective results in a complementary manner.

International cooperation

Switzerland has been supporting Ukraine's reform efforts since the 1990s. It also works in particular to improve living standards for people, improve public services and promote sustainable economic development.

Switzerland's commitment after 24 February 2022 has a strong humanitarian component. However, this is aligned with the thematic priorities of the previous long-term cooperation programme, which includes the following priorities:

  • strengthening democratic institutions
  • improving health (improving basic services)
  • sustainable urban development (e.g. energy efficiency, sustainable mobility)
  • strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (agricultural SMEs, access to financial services)

This long-term commitment will be continued with the necessary adjustments.

  • In the area of development cooperation, for example, a project for the rehabilitation of war trauma victims as well as mental health promotion has been adapted.
  • Switzerland has also been committed to digitalisation and decentralisation in Ukraine since 2015. The E-Governance for Accountability and Participation (EGAP) project offers important administrative services digitally, thereby increasing government transparency even during the war, promoting the population’s participation in decision-making processes and reducing corruption.
  • In addition, Switzerland promotes equal access to education and the strengthening of local governance. The project, which started in 2022, includes shelter construction in schools and distributing relief goods to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in schools.
  • The urban development and mobility projects have also been adjusted to factor in new IDP populations and changing socio-economic circumstances (e.g. barrier-free access to services and transport).

First response: Needs analysis and relief supplies

Today, around half of the Ukrainian population is dependent on humanitarian aid. In an initial phase, the focus was on assessing needs and delivering relief supplies. Immediately after the start of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) assessed needs in Ukraine, Poland and Moldova and set up hubs to provide concrete support to people affected by the war. Initially, deliveries of relief supplies were coordinated from there.

To date, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has transported over 1,400 tonnes of relief supplies (e.g. medical equipment, generators, fire engines and ambulances) from Switzerland to Ukraine and neighbouring countries and purchased over 4,765 tonnes of essential foodstuffs in Ukraine to support the population.

Winter aid

The targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure in winter 2022 resulted in over 40 per cent of the energy grid being destroyed. There is still no access to drinking water in many places and the power supply and telecommunications are often interrupted. Particularly in view of the harsh winters in Ukraine, at the end of 2022 the Federal Council decided on an action plan totalling CHF 100 million for winter aid. In particular, the federal government has and will continue to support projects for the urgent repair of destroyed civilian infrastructure (e.g. emergency repairs in the energy, road and health sectors). It also took various measures to help people in Ukraine last winter.

Factsheet Winter aid

Support from Swiss experts on site

Since February 2022, more than 70 Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) specialists have been deployed in Ukraine and Moldova to reinforce Swiss representations in both countries and support humanitarian organisations on the ground (ICRC, UN, NGOs).

For example, following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, two SHA specialists in engineering and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) were able to help with short and medium-term solutions to alleviate the effects of the dam's destruction. Switzerland has also supplied urgently needed pipes and pumps, which were purchased locally, to the water network operators upstream of the dam. This means that water supply systems can be operated even when water levels are low. 31 water tanks also procured in Ukraine and water filling racks from Switzerland supply an additional 60,000 people with drinking water.

Financial assistance and multilateral support

In providing financial assistance, Switzerland makes use of instruments of international organisations such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which have set up funds to pool the contributions of various countries to Ukraine.

As tax revenues in Ukraine have collapsed due to the war, the World Bank’s Peace Fund ensures that Ukraine’s state budget can be maintained and that, among other things, public sector employees – such as teachers and the police – continue to receive a salary. Switzerland supported the fund with CHF 10 million in 2022 and a further CHF 20 million in 2023.

Through the Ukraine Relief, Recovery, Reconstruction and Reform Trust Fund, Switzerland is helping to urgently repair destroyed energy infrastructure with a contribution of CHF 54 million. It has also allocated CHF 10 million to the Energy Community’s Ukraine Energy Support Fund, to provide equipment needed to repair the country’s energy infrastructure for example (where possible via Swiss partners).

Switzerland has also contributed CHF 3 million to a World Bank initiative that is assessing the damage caused by the war and evaluating which repairs need to be prioritised. In this regard, Switzerland is preparing to support an Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (EBRD) fund  with over CHF 20 million. This fund will provide grants for the modernisation and restoration of municipal infrastructure in Ukraine, with a focus on energy efficiency.

Through the EBRD, Switzerland’s commitment mainly targets Ukraine’s private sector. The Small Business Impact Fund is helping to improve framework conditions for SMEs. This is done through advisory services, strengthening supply chains, access to financing and the establishment of industrial parks. Through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Switzerland is supporting a mixed financing instrument with CHF 9.5 million, through which loans can be granted to farmers and other businesses in the agricultural sector. Through the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets, Switzerland is also investing in the Horizon Capital Growth Fund, which promotes start-ups in the IT and export sectors and through which agricultural businesses continue to have access to loans.

Financial overview

Since February 2022, Switzerland has provided more than CHF 441 million for international cooperation (IC) in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This involves, for example, the delivery of relief goods, support for health systems, decentralisation, digitalisation, vocational education and training, SMEs, and the strengthening of the agricultural sector. In Ukraine, working with local actors is particularly relevant – the country has a significant number of well-qualified people who have both the networks and the know-how to be able to mount immediate and flexible responses, including enabling humanitarian access to the last few kilometres in the frontline areas which are inaccessible to most international actors for security reasons.

Ukraine (IC)

Ukraine (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO)

Ukraine newsticker

Humanitarian demining

Ukraine has become one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. An estimated third of its territory – more than 174,000 km2 – is contaminated with mines and other explosive ordnance. This area is about four times the size of Switzerland.

On 29 September 2023, the Federal Council approved CHF 100 million for mine clearance in residential and agricultural areas in order to support Ukraine's reconstruction and recovery process. The funding has been split equally between the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and the work is currently being implemented. Switzerland has already been involved in mine action in Ukraine: in 2022 and 2023, the FDFA allocated CHF 15.2 million for the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD), while the DDPS has supplied Ukrainian aid organisations with demining devices from the Jura-based Digger Foundation and funded the training of Ukrainian mine clearance experts by the GICHD.

Peace, human rights and international humanitarian law

Without justice, lasting peace will not return to Ukraine. Switzerland therefore supports mechanisms and processes for the prosecution of crimes under international law, including war crimes and the crime of aggression. For example, Switzerland, along with 42 other states, referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and provided support for the court's investigation by deploying forensic specialists for a limited period of time. This was the prerequisite for the ICC prosecutor to start the investigation immediately. Switzerland is also committed to the establishment of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

However, given the scale of crimes related to Russia's military aggression, it will be impossible to prosecute all cases. Switzerland is therefore supporting Ukraine in efforts to set up further mechanisms and activities to address criminal accountability. To this end it is supporting Ukrainian NGOs, the OSCE and the UN in documenting violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights, which can then be used in any truth-seeking mechanisms that may be established in future.

In addition, Switzerland is helping the Ukrainian authorities in the search for and identification of missing persons. Not knowing the fate of a disappeared relative is an enormous burden for families as well as an obstacle to efforts to foster peace and social cohesion.

Switzerland is also supporting the Ukrainian initiative to provide comprehensive reparation measures for war victims. It is a member of the international war damage register and is funding consultations between the Ukrainian authorities and war-torn communities aimed at ensuring that their needs are considered in future reparation measures and mechanisms.

Switzerland is organising a high-level summit on peace in Ukraine at the Bürgenstock resort (canton of Nidwalden) on 15 and 16 June 2024. The overarching goal of the summit is to catalyse a future peace process. To this end, one of the aims is to establish a forum for a high-level dialogue on ways to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for Ukraine in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. It should also create a common understanding of a framework favourable to this objective and a concrete roadmap for the peace process. To date, more than 80 states and organisations have confirmed their participation.

High-level summit on peace in Ukraine dossier

Recovery process

At the beginning of July 2022, the then president of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, together with the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, brought all major partners (EU, international organisations) to the table for the first time in order to advance the political process of Ukraine's recovery. The Lugano Declaration proposed the political framework, noting that Ukraine was responsible for steering the process, but that reforms must continue in parallel. The Lugano Principles, which are contained within the Lugano Declaration, list common benchmarks for the future. At the conference in Lugano, 59 states and organisations were represented by delegations.

The Lugano Principles were taken up at the conferences in Berlin (October 2022) and Paris (December 2022), each of which focused on supporting Ukraine and continuing the recovery process, as well as the 2023 Ukraine Recovery Conference in London.

Support for the Lugano Principles

URC2022 dossier

Support for future measures

The Federal Council is planning to support recovery in Ukraine with CHF 5 billion in a long-term, phased approach. CHF 1.5 billion has already been made available for the 2025–28 period and will be financed via the IC budget. For the 2029–36 phase, totalling a further CHF 3.5 billion, the Federal Council will then examine the options for non-IC related funding. With this contribution, the Federal Council intends to step up its support for reconstruction in Ukraine and promote cooperation with the private sector. 

Good offices

Switzerland offered its good offices to both parties at the beginning of the war. At the request of Ukraine, Switzerland and Ukraine negotiated an agreement on the representation of Ukrainian interests in Russia by Switzerland (protecting power mandate). As Russia publicly rejected the mandate, it could not be activated.

Good offices

International organisations

Since the start of Russia's military aggression, the situation in Ukraine has also been repeatedly discussed in various organisations. The UN Security Council, for example, has regularly debated the situation in Ukraine.

In the UN General Assembly and, since the beginning of 2023, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Switzerland has strongly condemned the military aggression in its statements on Ukraine and repeatedly called for compliance with international law and the protection of the civilian population.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva – also with the support of Switzerland – has set up a commission of inquiry that gathers information on violations of human rights and IHL in connection with the conflict.

Switzerland has also taken a stand each time the situation in Ukraine has been discussed at the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

UN Security Council newsticker

OSCE

"It is essential in the medium term to bring everyone to the table"

Council of Europe

"It was a major shock but it hasn't weakened the Council of Europe, it has made it stronger"

Research and conservation of cultural heritage

A credit of CHF 9 million for scientific solidarity in favour of Ukrainian researchers in Switzerland has been set up via the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

The Swiss government has been working to protect Ukraine's rich cultural heritage by funding projects run by civil society actors and by providing financial support to international organisations such as UNESCO and the OSCE. In order to prevent the destruction or illegal transfer of Ukrainian cultural property, funds have been allocated to increase border controls and to establish an online platform to facilitate the exchange of information between countries.

Protective and packaging materials that are no longer available in Ukraine have been delivered to over 50 museums in the Odesa and Kharkiv regions. In addition, several unique works from the collection of the National Art Museum in Kyiv have been brought to Switzerland for conservation and public exhibition. A collection of books in Ukrainian has been built up for public libraries in Switzerland with financial support from the Swiss government.

War in Ukraine: Measures for researchers (SNSF)

Sanctions

On 28 February 2022, the Federal Council decided that Switzerland would adopt EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus, thus strengthening their effect. Switzerland also applied the EU's subsequent sanctions packages within a very short period of time.

The sanctions include targeted measures against 1,703 individuals and 421 organisations (freezing of assets and travel bans), numerous measures in the financial sector, trade bans on certain goods, and a ban on providing certain services to the Russian government or Russian companies. In addition, Switzerland participates in the price caps on Russian crude oil and petroleum products. Switzerland ensures that sanctions contain exemptions so as not to hinder humanitarian activities.

Switzerland's adoption of EU sanctions does not alter its neutrality in any way. Switzerland continues to fully uphold its neutrality in the strict sense of the term, i.e., the law of neutrality. It does not favour any warring party militarily. However, the Federal Council used the leeway allowed by its neutrality policy in deciding to adopt the EU's sanctions against Russia, taking into account the fact that Russia's military aggression against Ukraine is a serious violation of the most fundamental norms of international law.

Full, effective implementation of the sanctions imposed is a priority for the Federal Council. Cooperation between Switzerland and its international partners functions smoothly in this area at the technical level, with those responsible in the Federal Administration exchanging information with sanctioning authorities from various countries on a daily basis. The exchange of information is possible under the Embargo Act and is actively practised by the Swiss authorities. Switzerland is determined to continue its good cooperation with partner countries in a constructive manner, based on shared values and objectives, and to intensify it where necessary.

Measures related to the situation in Ukraine (SECO) (de,fr,it)

Questions and answers on Switzerland's neutrality

Migration

In March 2022, the Federal Council decided initially to activate protection status S, which grants asylum seekers from Ukraine a right of residence without having to go through the usual asylum procedure. In November 2023, the Federal Council announced that it would keep the S protection status in place until March 2025, unless long-term stability returns to Ukraine before that date. By the end of May 2024, Switzerland had granted protection status S to more than 104,000 people from Ukraine, of which more than 65,000 had active S status at the end of May 2024.

Within the framework of the Moldova Support Platform, Switzerland has agreed to take in 500 Ukrainian refugees who are currently in Moldova. Under this project, 256 people have so far been admitted to Switzerland (as at end May 2024). Furthermore, Switzerland has taken in civilians from Ukraine for treatment of acute physical illnesses. In addition, other particularly vulnerable groups including orphans and foster children have found refuge in Switzerland.

The reception and care of Ukrainians seeking protection and the high number of asylum seekers in Switzerland are placing a significant demand on the asylum system. The cantons and communes in particular are required to provide longer-term accommodation for asylum-seekers.

In order to facilitate the integration of persons with protection status S into the labour market, self-employment is permitted in addition to salaried employment, and the waiting period of three months has been abolished. Furthermore, in April 2022 the Federal Council decided on additional integration measures for persons with protection status S, in particular for promoting language learning and entering the job market. In November 2023, the Federal Council also decided that the employment rate for people with S status should be increased to 40% by the end of 2024. On 8 May 2024 a package of national measures was launched to help integrate such people into the labour market. The federal government, cantons, social partners and organisations concerned should work more closely together so that even more S status holders can be integrated into the labour market.

Information for refugees from Ukraine (SEM)

In parallel to the work of the FDFA/SDC and SECO, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is currently supporting nine projects in Ukraine's neighbouring countries. Eight of these, amounting to a total of around CHF 10 million, are being implemented by international organisations and NGOs in Ukraine's EU neighbouring countries as part of the second Swiss contribution's Rapid Response Fund. These projects cover integration, infrastructure and asylum processes. The same instrument was used previously to support IOM and UNICEF appeal measures in the same region with CHF 5 million each.

The SEM is also assisting Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, a non-EU state, with CHF 1 million in 2023/24 for a UNHCR project for the implementation of temporary protection status as well as the integration of Ukrainian asylum-seekers in the local labour market.

Switzerland’s financial aid since 24 February 2022

Since the start of the war, Switzerland has provided around CHF 3.37 billion to support people from Ukraine both in Switzerland and abroad (as at 31 May 2024).

Around CHF 441 million (13.1%) of this was allocated by the three units responsible for IC (the SDC, SECO and the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) at the FDFA), humanitarian aid and development and economic cooperation measures. This involves, for example, the delivery of relief goods, support for health systems, decentralisation, digitalisation, vocational education and training, SMEs, and the strengthening of the agricultural sector. Some projects and multilateral funds are set up transnationally. For example, more than CHF 50 million of IC spending has been used to help war-affected populations in nearby countries, especially Moldova.

Around CHF 37 million (1.1%) has been spent by the DDPS, consisting mostly of material delivered to Ukraine. This includes fire engines, health equipment and winter clothing.

CHF 2.87 billion (85.1%) of the financial aid has been issued by the SEM and has been used for the reception and support of people with protection status S in Switzerland. This includes, for example, supporting cantons with social welfare benefits, administrative costs and various cantonal support programmes. A small part of the SEM's work also involves supporting projects for Ukrainian refugees in Ukraine's neighbouring countries.

Other federal offices have also been involved in supporting people affected by the war with a contribution of approximately CHF 25 million (0.7%) – to protect cultural property, support Ukrainian researchers in Switzerland and organise the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, for example.

Switzerland's commitment before 2022

Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, Switzerland and Ukraine have maintained good diplomatic relations in a variety of areas. Switzerland can therefore rely on a close network of contacts and partners when supporting Ukraine.

International cooperation

Following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Switzerland decided in 2015 to significantly increase its commitment in Ukraine. The IC budget was almost doubled for the 2015–18 cooperation strategy and has since been further expanded. In addition, the SDC's and SECO's engagement was strengthened by the PHRD (then the Human Security Division) and Swiss Humanitarian Aid. In 2015, several convoys from Switzerland reached the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine, where they provided the population with chemicals for the treatment of drinking water and medicines. This made Switzerland the first third country to deliver aid on this scale to both sides of the line of contact. In total, from 2014 to 2021 Switzerland provided bilateral IC assistance in Ukraine worth CHF 250 million, of which CHF 41.5 million was allocated to humanitarian aid efforts.

Ukraine (IC)

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Switzerland held the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2014. In this capacity, it played a key role in international efforts to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea and the open outbreak of conflict in eastern Ukraine, the OSCE Permanent Council decided on 21 March to send a special civilian observation mission to Ukraine. From then on, this mission reported regularly on the security situation and other issues and also provided mediation support. Switzerland’s Alexander Hug served as deputy head of mission for several years (2014–18). In response to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the OSCE set up the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG). At high-level negotiations in Minsk, the TCG, together with the Normandy Four (the heads of state and government of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia), agreed on a basis for the further negotiation process. The special representative for Ukraine and the TCG, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, was appointed by Switzerland’s OSCE chairpersonship and was on site at the time. In the context of the TCG negotiations, other Swiss diplomats also took on various key roles – such as Heidi Grau, who served as special envoy from 2020–21 and Toni Frisch, who worked as coordinator of the TCG Humanitarian Working Group (2015–21), as well as various other advisers. The crisis in and around Ukraine at the time exposed a deeper crisis in European security. Under the 2014 OSCE chairmanship, an expert panel was set up in close cooperation with Serbia (2015 chairmanship) and Germany (2016 chairmanship) and tasked with drawing up a report and list of proposals (Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project).

Last update 13.06.2024

Contact

FDFA Communication

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern

Phone (for journalists only):
+41 58 460 55 55

Phone (for all other requests):
+41 58 462 31 53

Start of page