Occupied Palestinian Territory

Switzerland’s priorities in the Middle East are promotion of basic services and livelihoods, rule of law and protection, disaster risk reduction (DRR), economy and employment, as well as creation of peaceful living conditions. Swiss bilateral cooperation in the region focuses on Lebanon and Jordan. The SDC also supports regional initiatives within the framework of its priorities.

Map of the region Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)

The Middle East is currently affected by several ongoing conflicts. Since March 2011, the Syria crisis has significantly worsened the humanitarian situation inside Syria and neighbouring countries, which affects the long-term development of the whole region.

The region is also prone to natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and drought, bringing additional threats to the region’s populations.

Where synergies can be used, the SDC applies a whole-of-government approach (WOGA) with other Swiss departments, such as the Federal Department of Justice and Police's (FDJP) Office for Migration, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’s (FDFA) Political Division (including the Human Security Division), or the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). On the ground, it works with multilateral, international and local organisations as well as UN agencies.

Swiss International Cooperation

mill. CHF

mill. CHF

2015 *
mill. CHF



Bilateral development cooperation




Humanitarian aid




State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)


Economic Cooperation and Development





Other Federal Offices


FDFA Human Security Division




State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)




Total other Federal Offices




Cantons and municipalities








* planned; total based on available data
SDC figures excluding program contributions to Swiss NGOs
.. = figures not available | – = nil or amount < 5'000 CHF
a Excluding multilateral contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of 5.8 mil. CHF in 2013, of 8.4 mil. CHF in 2014 and of 9.5 mil. CHF in 2015.

Basic Services and Livelihood

Access to basic services for the vulnerable populations

The SDC seeks to improve access to basic services for vulnerable groups, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, as well as women and children. In order to ensure access to education, health care, social assistance, and other basic services, the SDC supports international organizations like United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
East (UNRWA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The SDC works with local authorities to improve their capacities to respond to the needs of their citizens and implements its own projects.

Construction of sewage and water supply networks for households in Jordan

2,500 households are connected to a potable water supply system and an underground sewage network in Gaza camp. The project is directly implemented in coordination with the Department for Palestinian Affairs (DPA) and UNRWA.

Rule of Law and Protection

Promotion of Internatonal Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

The SDC’s humanitarian aid and development cooperation programmes place emphasis on respect for and promotion of international humanitarian law and human rights. Within this framework, the SDC supports the work of several organisations active in defending human rights in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan. For the “Protection in the Region - Syria Jordan Lebanon” internal platform, the SDC works hand-in-hand with the Directorate of Political Affairs and the Federal Office for Migration.

Support for children in conflict with the law

In support of a comprehensive legal system that protects in particular vulnerable children, capacity-building activities for duty bearers are provided to better deal with children in conflict with the law.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Raising Awareness of Disaster Risk Reduction

The SDC contributes to existing efforts in reducing the risk of natural and man-made disasters in Lebanon and Jordan. Various projects are implemented to better handle crisis situations, such as sustainable management of water resource, quality control in earthquake resilient construction, and awareness-raising activities in schools and communities.

History of cooperation

For assistance in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, the SDC opened a South Cooperation Department Office in Amman in 2001. Initially, the SDC’s main priority was to assist Palestine refugees. However, since the outbreak of the Syria crisis in March 2011, its activities have been extended to victims of the Syria conflict as well as the host communities of neighbouring countries.

The South Cooperation Department Office in Amman coordinates all activities of the SDC programme offices in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ankara, Turkey, as well as the programme in Iraq, where there is no field office. Due to the increasing violence in Syria, the office in Damascus was closed in 2012.

Background information Near East

Facts and figures
  Jordan Lebanon Syria Iraq  
Surface area 89'342 10'400 185'000 438’317 km2
Population 6.318 4.425 22.399 32.578 mill.
Annual population growth rate (since 1990) 2.2 1.0 2.0 2.5 %
Life expectancy at birth women / men 75.4 / 72.1 82.0 / 77.8 77.7 / 71.9 73.0 / 65.7 years
Adult illiteracy rate: women / men 6.1 / 2.3 .. 22.3 / 9.7 28.8 / 14.0 %
Gross Domestic Product GDP per capita 4'909.0 9'705.4 .. 6'625.2 USD
Percentage of population with less than 2 USD per day 1.6 .. .. .. %
Facts and figures

.. = figures not available

Source: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2014


  • Information from the FDFA
    Representation website, travel advice (in DE, FR and IT only) and information about life in the country and bilateral relations

Switzerland and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Switzerland and Lebanon

Switzerland and Jordan

Switzerland and Iraq

  • Travel information provided by fairunterwegs.org (de)
    Information provided by the travel portal, fairunterwegs.org, which is supported by the SDC, about fairness in interacting with people and nature while travelling

Occupied Palestinian Territory





  • Background information provided by the BBC:

Occupied Palestinian Territory