The Federal Council intends to release CHF 10 million for emergency aid in Gaza

Press releases, 08.05.2024

At its meeting on 8 May 2024, the Federal Council decided to make a contribution of CHF 10 million to the humanitarian aid appeal of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The CHF 10 million contribution is exclusively earmarked for Gaza and will be used to provide the urgent assistance specified in the UNRWA Flash Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory covering the period April–December 2024. In its overall assessment, the Federal Council drew on the analysis of the Colonna report and coordination with other donors. The Federal Council will submit this decision to the foreign affairs committees of the National Council and Council of States for consultation.

In Gaza, 2.3 million people, including 1.7 million internally displaced persons, are dependent on emergency aid. The United Nations is warning of an imminent famine. In its latest emergency aid appeal for Gaza, published on 24 April 2024, UNRWA is seeking around CHF 1 billion. The Federal Council is fully aware of the critical nature of this situation and recognises the urgent need for action. Switzerland's CHF 10 million contribution to UNRWA will be restricted to Gaza and will cover the most pressing basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, basic healthcare and logistics.

As decided by Parliament in December 2023, this contribution will be submitted to the foreign affairs committees for consultation. This comes on top of the CHF 56.2 million package to address the humanitarian needs of Middle Eastern countries which the Federal Council approved on 24 April 2024 and has already submitted to the foreign affairs committees. Future financial support for the Middle East will be decided in the second half of 2024.

The decision of the Federal Council also takes into account the conclusions of the report by the independent review group led by former French Minister for Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna. This report, mandated by the UN Secretary-General and published on 22 April 2024, aimed to examine the neutrality of UNRWA. The report notes that UNRWA has a robust monitoring system in place. However, it also makes 50 recommendations to further enhance the organisation's neutrality, particularly in how it communicates, develops educational materials and uses its infrastructure. 

In January 2024, several donor states suspended their contributions to UNRWA following allegations against the organisation. Many donors have since restored funding. New donors have also pledged their support (see annex).

The Federal Council reiterates its call for a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for emergency aid to Gaza, compliance with international humanitarian law, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Annex(pdf, 586kb)

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