Near East

Crisis in the Near East

Switzerland is concerned about the situation in the Near East. It calls on all parties to protect the civilian population and respect international humanitarian law.  Stopping the violence and de-escalating the conflict are top priorities.

In view of the dramatic humanitarian consequences of the conflict, Switzerland has allocated an additional CHF 90 million in humanitarian aid, CHF 81 million of which will go to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the rest to the region. The funds will go to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the United Nations and Swiss non-governmental organisations. These organisations offer shelter and protection to the people affected, provide them with basic foodstuffs, medicines and hygiene products, and are active in the field of water and sanitation.

Active for several decades in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the SDC is committed to responding to humanitarian needs. It also supports the economic and social development of the population.

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In the Near East, Switzerland's approach is anchored in the vision set out in the UN Security Council resolutions: two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders. In this context, Switzerland supports inclusive dialogue, the promotion of human rights and respect for international law. 

The humanitarian aid Switzerland provides, based on fundamental humanitarian principles, aims to protect the lives and health of human beings. With its development support, Switzerland promotes innovation and the creation of job opportunities for young people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Switzerland is committed to women's rights and greater gender equality.

Map of the occupied Palestinian territory
© FDFA

The Near East conflict is situated in a shifting regional landscape and faces major obstacles to its resolution. As such, it remains a fundamental factor shaping Switzerland's engagement. In this context, Switzerland supports inclusive dialogue and promotes human rights and respect for international law. The humanitarian aid it provides, founded on fundamental principles, aims to protect people's lives and health. Switzerland also provides support for overall development that helps to create opportunities and decent and sustainable livelihoods. 

Switzerland is convinced that economic opportunities for young people will contribute to regional stability. It is therefore deploying its expertise to support the potential for innovation in the occupied Palestinian territory by increasing cooperation with the private sector. Switzerland is committed to women's rights and greater gender equality.

Its cooperation programme is aligned with the Swiss International Cooperation Strategy 2021-24 (IC) and the Middle East and North Africa Strategy 2021-24. 

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding

Switzerland is helping to improve the conditions for the resumption of a genuine dialogue between all parties with a view to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It facilitates spaces for dialogue between communities, political and religious figures and decision-makers in order to promote trust and fair and equitable models of coexistence.

It supports the feasibility of a two-state solution and promotes the conditions that allow for greater Palestinian reconciliation and national unity.

Peace and human rights

Rule of law, protection and gender equality

In a context of discrimination and the expansion of illegal settlements, Switzerland helps protect and promote decent conditions and security in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. Switzerland continues to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties. It also works for the rights of Palestinians to enjoy health and to access water and natural resources. Switzerland supports gender equality, particularly through local actors who combat gender-based violence.

Activities supported include advocacy, provision of legal aid and psychosocial support. Switzerland supports humanitarian actors and human rights defenders and helps protect their space for action and expression.

Fragility, conflict and human rights

Gender equality

International humanitarian law

Inclusive economic development, youth employment and innovation

In order to strengthen social cohesion and stability, Switzerland contributes to maintaining jobs and creating new opportunities, especially for unemployed youth and women. It aims to improve the conditions for innovative and inclusive economic development. Sectors targeted include agriculture and agri-food, which employ 25% of the workforce. New and existing partnerships, including with the private sector, support the development of entrepreneurship and other skills that young students and graduates need. Among its activities, Switzerland supports initiatives and start-ups with a high potential to create jobs and impact society. Partnerships are sought with Swiss actors, in particular universities, institutional innovation incubators and the private sector, as well as with the relevant regional actors.

Private Sector Development and financial services

Local governance and providing essential services

Switzerland seeks to strengthen social inclusion at local level and to improve the provision of high-quality essential services to everyone. Activities include building the capacity of municipalities and promoting citizens' participation in decision-making, with a particular focus on women's and young people's representation in local government. Humanitarian actors and the United Nations provide certain services (education, health, water) and their work complements Switzerland's activities. A close link between development and humanitarian aid is ensured. UNRWA remains a vital multilateral organisation, providing education and medical care to refugees and social protection for the most vulnerable populations in Gaza and the West Bank. 

In collaboration with other donors such as the World Bank, the SDC gives a voice to vulnerable and marginalised communities to ensure that these programmes leave no one behind. Switzerland participates in humanitarian donor coordination mechanisms to ensure effective and coherent support. 

Good governance

Rapide Response and Emergency Relief

Basic education and vocational skills development

Approach and Swiss partners

The FDFA uses a complementary and flexible combination of partnerships with international organisations (the UN, IFIs, the ICRC, the FAO), international, local and Swiss NGOs, national authorities and other local public and private partners (e.g. universities, technology parks and professional associations). In the oPt, joint partnerships with like-minded countries are essential to mitigate risks, improve coordination and increase aid effectiveness. Support for each partner is carefully monitored: selection is based on their alignment with Swiss foreign policy values, Switzerland's thematic priorities and the given partner's professionalism, effectiveness and impact.

Current project

Object 1 – 12 of 13

Support to Municipal Development Programme (MDP4)

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

Through its contribution to the Municipal Development Programme (MDP), Switzerland aims to improve the quality and accessibility of local services and infrastructure provided by Palestinian municipalities to their citizens in the oPt. The programme builds the capacities for stable, transparent and accountable local institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. Supported by key donors of the sector, the programme promotes and supports reforms and provides a prominent platform for sector policy dialogue with the Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance. 


Gaza Economic Resilience Program

01.04.2023 - 31.12.2026

Switzerland contributes to foster the resilience of the private sector in the Gaza Strip. This UNDP implemented multi-donor intervention aims to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in sectors with potential to substitute low quality imports (food, garment, plastic, furniture) through investment support, upskilling of labor, and improved cooperation between business associations and local authorities. A more resilient private sector will generate jobs for youth and reduce the aid dependency in the Gaza Strip.


Exiting partnership with PNGO: Strengthening Advocacy, Policy and Communications Capacity on nexus

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland aims to exit its partnership with the network of Palestinian NGOs (PNGO) while ensuring consolidation of PNGO’s leading role in service delivery applying nexus approach to strength coherence between humanitarian, development efforts while preserving the viability of the 2-states solution, to effectively reduce people’s needs, risks and vulnerabilities while supporting prevention efforts. The contribution continues to enhance the prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace. This support is in line with the Swiss Cooperation Programme Near East 2021 - 2024 by promoting protection of the Palestinian population by all duty-bearers.


Program Contribution for Fondation Terre des hommes 2023-2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

The program of the Terre des hommes Foundation (TdhF) aims to sustainably reduce child mortality and morbidity and to secure access to health, sanitation and clean water for mothers and children (0-18 years) in severe poverty. Children in contexts of migration, conflict and disasters, and child victims of violence are better protected. International standards in child-friendly justice are promoted. Humanitarian interventions in fragile contexts, combined with poverty reduction and sustainable development are promoted through innovative work with children and youths.


Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2023-2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region and its role in providing services and humanitarian assistance to people in need. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to 5.8 million registered Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to vulnerable refugees.


Programme Contribution to the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2027

ICHR, is dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in Palestinian controlled territories. It focuses on strengthening the legislative, institutional and legal environment and on monitoring, investigating and handling complaints on human rights put forward by Palestinian citizens. It further aims at promoting accountability measures and consolidating human rights culture. Switzerland’s support to ICHR contributes to the democratic state building agenda, to peace building and dialogue towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation, promotion of rule of law and sustainable development, therefore contributing to stability in the region. 


Resilient culture & art for social change

01.12.2022 - 31.12.2026

Culture and arts play a key role to promote Palestinian identities, dialogue and freedom of expression. Switzerland contributes with this proposal to a diverse, innovative and more resilient cultural sector able to foster democratic values and voice the needs and aspirations of the civil society. The programme employs art as entry point for social dialogue and builds the entrepreneurial capacities of emerging artists in partnership with Qattan Foundation and Welfare Association.  


Support to Village Councils – Area C Infrastructure

01.02.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland fosters the resilience of marginalised communities in Area C of the West Bank by enhancing planning capacities of local authorities and improving the access to basic infrastructure in partnership with UNHABITAT and the Municipal Development and Lending Fund MDLF. SDC’s contribution is part of a wider donor engagement in Area C to Leave No One Behind. A stronger accent is put in this third and final phase on active participation of women and youth in the selection and social auditing of infrastructure projects.


GVCD - Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Through the Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme, Switzerland contributes to covering basic needs and fostering social cohesion in the Gaza Strip. The successful intervention model applied in the 1st Phase is extended and scaled up under this 2nd Phase. Small infrastructure projects addressing basic needs of vulnerable communities serve as an entry point for a local dialogue on development priorities, enabled through building the capacities of both duty bearers and right holders, including youth and women.


Support to Safe Spaces for Women, Youth and Children in Gaza Strip

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland promotes social cohesion and civic peace through creating safe spaces for women, youth, and persons with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. By fostering local capacities and promoting community-led initiatives Safe Spaces strengthens the resilience of vulnerable groups. This second phase puts a stronger accent on skills and economic empowerment for youth in line with the Cooperation Programme 2021-24. By advocating for inclusive societies it contributes to mitigate the spread of extremism and radicalization.


OHCHR - Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the oPt

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

This support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the oPt aims to contribute to promoting and protecting human rights in the oPt and enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with the State of Israel. 


Upgrading Karm Abu Salem Crossing - Gaza

01.10.2020 - 29.02.2024

Switzerland will support improving the export/import conditions of goods to and from the Gaza Strip. The project, implemented by UNOPS, will upgrade the poor infrastructure at the Palestinian side of the only functioning commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel. The existing infrastructure conditions are causing around 10% of damages to the transiting commodities thus incurring substantial economic losses that are affecting the living conditions of two million people in the Gaza Strip

Object 1 – 12 of 13