Since the breakout of conflict in March 2011, the situation in Syria has continued to deteriorate. In addition to being exposed to armed violence and human rights violations, the civilian population lacks drinking water, food, shelter and medical care. Facing such an influx of refugees, Syria's neighbouring countries are at risk of becoming destabilised. At present, various host states and humanitarian organisations have been registered and are providing assistance to more than 2 million people.
Within this context, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been continually strengthening its commitment in the region, mainly in order to protect and support the people affected by the situation. To date, CHF 50 million has been allocated for assistance to Syria and its neighbouring countries. The SDC is currently assisting communities in Jordan and Lebanon that are hosting Syrian refugees, as well as supporting various international organisations (ICRC, UNHCR, WFP, FAO, UNICEF, UNRWA, IOM), NGOs and civil society organisations working to help refugees.
Having been active in Jordan for many years - the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for the past 25 years and the SDC since the second Iraq war in 2003 - Switzerland has also intensified its aid programmes during the last two years. Indeed, the SDC regional cooperation strategy 2010-14 for Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria earmarked up to CHF 1.5 to 2.5 million per year for Jordan, which is also home to nearly two million Palestinian refugees. However, the actual amount committed in the country today averages at CHF 10 million per year.
Specifically in the humanitarian context, the SDC supports, in addition to direct aid, the secondment of specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) and participates, through its contributions, to the activities of its various partner organisations. In terms of technical cooperation, the SDC supports projects that improve basic services, in particular education and water resources, and reduce the risks associated with natural disasters. SECO supports civilian protection in Jordan by improving ambulance services and patient care with a sum of CHF 9.1 million.
Thanks to the new agreement, Switzerland's commitment in Jordan is now set out in a formal framework that regulates and facilitates the terms of humanitarian and technical assistance, as well as financial cooperation between the countries. Given the increasing humanitarian needs in the field and the uncertain evolution of the situation on the ground, Switzerland intends to continue its assistance to the region.
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