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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Kenya: Empowering refugees and host communities in Dadaab through market-led solutions (EMPOWER)

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

The project envisages to unlock the potential of displacement-affected communities (DACs) by providing access to capital, skills development, market opportunities and entrepreneur-friendly policies. The project aims to deliver on long-term economic growth, self-reliance and decreased dependency of DACs on aid. This sustainable approach offers a pathway out of poverty and towards thriving entrepreneurial livelihoods in Kenya.


Protection and emergency care for vulnerable and unaccompanied minors

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2025

The number of migrants transiting through Bosnia and Herzegovina remains high with more than 10% of them being unaccompanied minors in need of essential care and special protection due to their vulnerabilities. As the state system is not yet able to fully address their needs, assistance from external actors remains crucial to provide the much-needed support to this vulnerable group of migrants and to safeguard their rights.


Strengthened and Informative Migration Systems (SIMS) Phase II

01.04.2024 - 31.03.2029

Switzerland is interested in ensuring that international migration is regular, secure, respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The project will institutionalise well tested awareness mechanisms on the perils of irregular migration and enhance further public and private capacities to deliver services to potential migrants. The intervention contributes to Switzerland’s dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at national and global levels.


CAR, OCHA, Humanitarian Fund Central African Republic (HF-CAR) Protection and Assistance to people affected by conflict and violence

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

The protracted crisis continues to affect the lives and livelihoods of Central Africans, and more than 46% of the population remains in need of protection and assistance. The HF-CAR enables the implementation of priority humanitarian responses, and the Swiss contribution enables an effective and efficient response to these needs, in its commitments to Good Humanitarian Donorship, the Grand Bargain and the Localization of Aid.


Diaspora knowledge mobility project

01.11.2023 - 31.10.2027

Many members of the 2 million diaspora of Bosnia and Herzegovina are ready to contribute to the development of their country with their knowledge, skills and investments. Switzerland supports the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in creating mechanisms for transfer of diaspora knowledge and skills to local development actors, scientific, research and educational institutions and students, which will contribute to Bosnia’s economic and social development. 


REG: Core Contribution to the RCC

15.10.2023 - 31.12.2026

The Regional Cooperation Council was officially launched in 2008 as the successor to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The Berlin Process in 2014 gave a new impetus to the regional cooperation and positioned the Council as a medium for communication between the Western Balkan and the EU. It represents an important tool for fostering the stability in the region by bringing together 46 countries, international organisations and banks, mainly from the EU, South East Europe and Western Balkans. 


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).


Decent Work Middle East

01.10.2023 - 30.09.2027

Migrant workers and refugees face obstacles to access decent work in the Middle East, one of the largest migrant hosting regions, which limits their ability to contribute to their countries of origin and destination. To maximize benefits of migration and reduce harm, Switzerland engages various public and private stakeholders for the promotion of decent working conditions in Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf, through access to justice, migrant empowerment and addressing worker welfare in the green and just transition.


UA: Support to Principled HA

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

Humanitarian needs in Ukraine remain persistent and compounded, especially in area where access is compromised due to security constraints or Russian military occupation. Switzerland is willing to support initiatives that advance practices, policies and understanding of humanitarian needs and dynamics, including improving the safety of humanitarian workers and the protection of vulnerable groups. In a highly politicized environment, a sound and principled humanitarian response needs to be upheld, coherently with Swiss humanitarian traditions.


NGORC

15.09.2023 - 14.09.2024

Aligned with SDC's strategic fair partnership principles and localization approaches, Switzerland aims to address existing gaps in fostering a locally-led humanitarian response and increase the outreach of protection services to a bigger number of those in need, while enhancing the quality of protection assistance provided to the most vulnerable children in Ukraine. 


IDSF - Int. Displacement Solutions Fund

01.09.2023 - 31.07.2028

By the end of 2022, 71.1 million people were living in internal displacement worldwide, a 20 per cent increase in a year and the highest number ever recorded (IDMC 2023). Switzerland is actively supporting the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s Action Agenda on solutions to internal displacement with its different instruments. Supporting the newly established Internal Displacement Solutions Fund2 (IDSF) represents a game-changer in supporting joint UN country level solutions to internal displacement. 

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