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

Object 1 – 12 of 65

Strengthening regional cooperation on migration in the Western Balkans

01.06.2025 - 31.12.2027

In light of diversifying migration patterns and challenges with increasing regional dimensions, the migration policy priorities of Western Balkan governments are changing and the relevance of regional dialogue, coordination and cooperation is growing. This proposal seeks to promote coherent and effective regional governance of migration in all its multifaceted dimensions contributing to greater social cohesion and regional integration in the Western Balkans.


Horn of Africa: IFC - Private sector solutions for regufees and host communities

01.01.2025 - 09.07.2031

The Horn of Africa is fraught by political and economic fragilities and conflicts, leading to protracted displacement situations. They involve confinement in camps with few opportunities to establish sustainable livelihoods. Switzerland contributes to durable solutions for displacement-affected communities by promoting private sector development, leading to greater economic and employment opportunities and socio-economic integration in the region, which is in the Swiss interest.


Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

18.11.2022 - 28.02.2029

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.


Building Regional and National capacities for improved Migration Governance in the IGAD Region

01.01.2022 - 31.08.2027

The Horn of Africa is of high interest for Switzerland in terms of migration policy. Swiss support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its Member States will contribute to improve their migration governance capacities so as to enable the organisation to effectively implement regional, continental and global regulatory standards for the protection of refugees and vulnerable migrants in the region.


Fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2023

Approximately 105 million people are currently working outside their country of origin. Many of these migrant workers have profited from international labour recruitment intermediaries. Millions, however, have become victims of abusive and exploitative practices by unethical recruiters. Working together with different actors, SDC will support initiatives to ensure fair and ethical recruitment. Migrants and their families will be better protected and thereby better enabled to contribute to the development of their countries of origin and destination.


Supporting the Security Sector Reform (SSR) Process in The Gambia

01.07.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Gambia, which is a priority country in regard to Swiss migration interest, initiated a national SSR process in 2017. Based on 3 years of in-depth research and support to this process, in 2021 DCAF launched a new program to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Gambian security sector. Through its contribution, Switzerland aims to improve the quality of services provided to local communities by the immigration department by strengthening its management and accountability.


Decent work, protection and well-being for migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024

The programme aims to maximise the benefits of migration for sustainable development in Sri Lanka. It will support government institutions and other actors in implementing policies related to fair and ethical recruitment, skills development and provide reintegration support for returning migrants in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. A special focus is placed on elevating migrant workers’ voices in advocacy. The intervention creates entry points to engage with the newly elected government in Sri Lanka. 


PSTIC: Provision of protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants in Greater Cairo

21.08.2020 - 20.08.2021

The increase in migrants and refugees residing in Egypt, coupled with shrinking humanitarian funding are leaving many at protection risk. With new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection risks have risen and needs are exacerbated. This project will respond to the immediate protection needs of refugees and migrants by providing a comprehensive package of gender sensitive emergency protection services in Greater Cairo, with a special focus on women and children at risk. 


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 - 31.07.2022

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.


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.


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.

Object 1 – 12 of 65