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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BiH Diaspora Platform

15.07.2020 - 30.06.2024

Switzerland is host to a significant diaspora from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), including representatives of all nationalities constituting BiH. Since 2017, the i-platform serves as a bridge-builder among the heterogeneous members of the BiH diaspora in Switzerland and between the two countries, facilitating partnerships, know-how transfer, and investments. Through this exit phase, the i-platform shall gain full financial sustainability and become a meaningful and effective diaspora engagement model for development.


The "Bosnia i Herzegovina"-Platform

01.07.2020 - 31.12.2025

The Bosnia i Herzegovina Platform (BiH) is an initiative of diaspora associations that are already involved in development activities. The platform will enhance cooperation and strengthen the diaspora associations’ role as development actors. SDC aims at promoting the potential of migrants for sustainable development mainly through improved framework conditions. The permanent platform as an effective and dynamic network will set the grounds for competent coordination services to diaspora organizations, to the country of destination and to the country of origin.


Water and Comprehensive Sanitation Project in Rural Areas (ASIR – SABA), Phase III

01.06.2020 - 31.03.2023

The ASIR-SABA Project aims to contribute to the sustainable management and governance of water and sanitation, as well as public health, as a contribution to the consolidation of peace in rural areas of the country. To achieve its objective, the project promotes dialogue between the different actors of the WASH sector in Colombia. It also aims to strengthen the capacities at the community and institutional level (national, departmental and municipal) for the co-management of water and sanitation in rural areas of the country.

Based on the achievements capitalized by the project in its first and second phases and the challenges and opportunities identified with the different governmental actors of the WASH sector in Colombia, the SDC implements the third and final phase of the ASIR-SABA project.


Reintegration of Migrant Workers in Bangladesh

01.05.2020 - 30.11.2025

Reintegration of returnee women and men migrant workers into their communities through self or wage-employment and customised support services is a priority in the current pandemic context. The project will take advantage of the favourable relationship Switzerland enjoys as a longstanding partner of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment to provide technical assistance for establishing and improving services for returnee migrant workers, building upon country systems.


Support to Relief and Recovery from COVID-19

01.05.2020 - 01.09.2025

The proposed interventions support the Government of Nepal in its efforts to contain the further spread of COVID-19 and to address the socio-economic consequences, in particular for disadvantaged groups. As a trusted partner and with its longstanding experience in development cooperation, Switzerland is well positioned to effectively provide relief and recovery during, and in the aftermath of the pandemic, in close collaboration with local and international stakeholders.


Routes Migratoires Afrique Ouest et Nord

20.01.2020 - 31.03.2025

Le projet « Enfants et Jeunes sur les Routes Migratoires de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Nord» contribue dans 5 pays pilotes à la protection des enfants et jeunes migrants face aux risques d’abus, et à l’insertion socio-économique. Le projet (1) propose une prise en charge et un accompagnement direct pour 11’500 bénéficiaires selon leurs besoins, (2) contribue à l’amélioration des lois et systèmes nationaux et régionaux de prise en charge légale, psychologique et éducative, et (3) facilite des opportunités d’éducation de base et d’insertion.


Global solutions for migration related challenges

01.01.2020 - 31.03.2023

The challenges and opportunities linked to migration require a coordinated response from the international community that goes beyond individual country measures. For this reason, Switzerland works towards an effective global migration governance that enables cooperation among states and other stakeholders (private sector, civil society). Switzerland also supports evidence-based policy making and the development of global solutions to contemporary migration challenges that benefit migrants and their families, as well as countries of origin and destination.


Migration de travail et développement économique en Afrique de l'Ouest

01.01.2020 - 31.05.2025

La migration en Afrique de l’Ouest est en grande partie intra régionale, et se fait principalement à des fins de travail. Grâce à sa longue expérience en migration et développement (M&D), la Suisse vise à faciliter la contribution des migrant-e-s au développement socio-économique de la sous-région par la voie d'initiatives qui ont trait à leur protection, leur meilleure inclusion dans les zones urbaines, ainsi qu’à leur plus grande implication dans les trajectoires de développement des pays concernés. 


Somalia - UN Joint Programme Saameynta: Scaling-up Solutions to Displacement (UNJPS)

01.11.2019 - 30.06.2025

Displacement contributes to Somalia’s rapid and unplanned urbanization. 2.6 million people are displaced with little prospects for durable solutions. Switzerland, in a whole of government approach and through a UN Joint Programme Saameynta (UNJPS) will contribute to durable solutions for displacement-affected communities by improving their protection environment, socio-economic inclusiveness, self-reliance and fit-for-purpose land governance, thus leading to sustainable (re)integration.


IDB Migration Initiative (Clean drinking water and sanitation program for la Guajira)

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

Switzerland supports to the newly created Migration Initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that was created in support of Latin American and Caribbean migrants and their host communities and accordingly contributes to deter grave development crisis by empowering communities to foster integration and consequently to strengthen stability of the region and Colombia in particular.


Labour Migration governance for development and integration in Africa

01.10.2019 - 31.12.2025

An effective labour migration governance is an important element of regional economic integration and development. Switzerland has a longstanding expertise in labour migration at the global and regional level and an interest in furthering economic development on the African continent. Through this programme, Switzerland partners with the Africa Union towards the establishment of a permanent coherent mechanism to manage the migration of African migrant workers, thereby contributing to the creation of socio-economic perspectives on the African continent.


Strengthening the financial inclusion of migrant women through the Gender-Inclusive Fintech Fund (GIFF)

01.10.2019 - 14.04.2028

Switzerland aims to enable migrant women to increase their access to and usage of financial products and services by assisting FinTech companies in becoming gender- and migration-centred. The Swiss contribution goes to the Gender-Inclusive FinTech Fund, an innovative investment fund deploying impact-linked finance and technical assistance that leverages private sector funds. The initiative operationalises the strategic link between migration policy and international cooperation, strengthens Switzerland’s profile in digitalisation and financial inclusion, and boosts its engagement with the private sector.

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