Operational resources

The Humanitarian Aid of SDC provides assistance via four channels: the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, funding partner organisations, delivering relief supplies and advocacy.

What type of method is used is based on an in-depth context analysis and depends on the level of the emergency. In certain cases, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC may use all four at the same time – such as in Syria.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit

The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) is a pool of around 700 people who are on call for various types of deployment. This includes specialists in (re)construction, water and sanitation, the environment and disaster risk reduction, and civilian protection.

The SHA is the operational arm of the Humanitarian Aid of SDC. The specialists are deployed for short to medium-term missions to implement SDC or UN partner projects before, during and after periods of crisis and conflict. 

Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit

Financial contributions

The recent increase in large-scale operations led by various international organisations has made funding all the more important.Today, almost two-thirds of the Humanitarian Aid of SDC funds are used to make financial contributions.

Key partners are large organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

NGOs such as the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) and Caritas also play a crucial role in international cooperation efforts.

Food aid and relief supplies

Switzerland is a signatory to the Food Assistance Convention. In this regard, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC works to fight undernourishment, malnutrition and hunger. This is done mainly by supporting WFP and NGO activities. Where possible, it prioritises projects that help the affected communities choose what products they need for themselves, such as cash and food voucher programmes. Another advantage to this approach is that it helps strengthen the local economy.

Cash transfer programming

Survivors of war and natural disaster lack the most basic necessities. That is why the Humanitarian Aid of SDC provides the affected countries with relief supplies from its logistics base in Bern. This includes tents, equipment to sterilise water and emergency medical supplies. Goods stored in warehouses belonging to UN partner organisations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies may also be sent across the world by the SDC. In certain cases, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC obtains and distributes supplies directly in the crisis areas.

Dialogue and advocacy

At the diplomatic level, Switzerland advocates respect for international humanitarian law, unrestricted humanitarian access to people in need, a safe operating environment for humanitarian organisations and a rights-based approach to the affected communities. In addition to advocating at multilateral forums, this dialogue is included at the bilateral level with countries where the Humanitarian Aid of SDC is active. Switzerland is also working towards better global coordination in the field of humanitarian aid.

It is seen as a credible, respected and influential humanitarian partner thanks to both the financial and operational support it provides for multilateral partners and the concrete actions of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit on the ground.

World Humanitarian Summit 2016, Istanbul

Swiss Rescue

Swiss Rescue is the mission element which can be immediately deployed abroad primarily following earthquakes for the purpose of locating and rescuing buried victims.

Swiss Rescue