A woman refugee walks in front of a tent.
Switzerland has launched protection projects in the Middle East, Yemen, Turkey and in the Horn of Africa.

There are more refugees now than at any time since the Second World War. Switzerland is committed at several levels to protecting refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants. Within the FDFA, responsibility for this area lies with the Human Security Division and the SDC. They work closely with other federal offices and agencies.

In situations of forced displacement, Switzerland has three goals, with the FDFA playing a leading role in many areas:

  • Protection on the ground: Switzerland is committed to protecting refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants in their regions of origin (Protection in the Region). It supports countries of first refuge in providing prompt protection to those affected. Switzerland has launched corresponding programmes in the Middle East, Turkey, the Horn of Africa and Yemen. It sends experts, provides food aid and helps fund the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN agencies and local NGOs. 

  • Prevention: Switzerland fights the root causes of displacement and forced migration. It is involved in civilian peacebuilding to find political solutions to conflicts as quickly as possible and to prevent further conflicts. It champions human rights and speaks out against the systematic violation of such rights. Through its development efforts, Switzerland creates future prospects on the ground, helps overcome state fragility and supports measures for disaster risk reduction.


  • Social and economic independence: Switzerland is committed to finding sustainable solutions for refugees and displaced people. It supports access to education, including renovating schools, providing housing, implementing vocational training projects in refugee camps and creating jobs. Because without prospects and the hope of returning home in the near future, many people are forced into onward migration.

Interdepartmental coordination

This FDFA commitment, as well as other activities in the area of migration and development, can also make a strategic contribution to implementing Switzerland's migration policy interests. In order to coordinate the various activities in the area of international migration and to ensure coherent policy, the Federal Council set up an interdepartmental coordination group in February 2011. Together with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the FDFA coordinates foreign policy on migration with the involvement of other actors in the Federal Administration. It is involved, among other things, in planning and implementing migration partnerships with the countries of origin of migrants in Switzerland and it plays an active role in the international migration dialogue.

  • Migration partnerships are one of the instruments Switzerland uses in its foreign policy on migration.

  • A short video clip gives a vivid account of how the SDC helps to make migration safer worldwide and contribute to development in the interests of all.

  • Protecting individuals from war, violence and arbitrary treatment, and promoting peace, democracy and human rights are priorities of Swiss foreign policy.

Last update 03.05.2023

  • Switzerland brings its expertise on education, protection, employment and integration to the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

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