Emergency relief: Swiss Humanitarian Aid's main mission

A father and daughter beside a fruit and vegetable stall in a refugee camp.
In Iraq millions of people displaced by war have turned to refugee camps for food and water. © SDC

Switzerland provides emergency relief in situations of crisis, conflict and disaster, with full respect for universal humanitarian principles. The main goal of such operations is to save lives and alleviate suffering. The Humanitarian Aid of SDC places the needs of the affected people at the centre of its activities and advocates for their own involvement in humanitarian efforts.

SDC Focus

Emergency relief is the primary mission of the SDC's humanitarian aid activities performed on Switzerland's behalf. This means providing food and drinking water as well as emergency medical care for people in need. It also includes temporary shelter for refugees and internally displaced persons. Ensuring protection for the most vulnerable is a priority of the Humanitarian Aid of SDC.

Needs-based action

Switzerland provides emergency relief where:

  • there are major humanitarian needs and a large number of people face serious difficulties as a result of a crisis, armed conflict, natural or technological disaster or an epidemic;
  • the local, national and regional capacities are lacking or unable to cope with such crisis situations and their consequences.

In order to assess the needs and decide where and when to act, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC is guided by appeals for assistance from the states concerned, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) and/or the relevant UN bodies. It also draws on the observations of Swiss representations abroad and various NGOs.

The Humanitarian Aid of SDC responds rapidly on the ground, guided by the specific needs and in accordance with the fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Emergency relief tools

Switzerland's emergency relief activities take a variety of forms:

  • deployment of Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit experts
  • distribution of food and basic necessities
  • disbursement of funds to partner organisations working in the crisis zones
  • continued international advocacy and on the ground to ensure access to humanitarian aid for the victims.

Background

Humanitarian challenges have multiplied over the years and become more and more complex. Crises, conflicts and disasters are increasing in number, scope, intensity and duration. Such situations often result in violations of international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. In brief, the humanitarian system is reaching its limits, and the biggest victims are civilian populations. Millions of people have fled suffering and violence worldwide, and such migratory flows and their consequences are also being felt in Europe. But it is always the countries of origin and their neighbouring states that bear most of the burden.

Support for local stakeholders

Switzerland advocates for international efforts that bolster the affected countries' own local, national and regional mechanisms for humanitarian action in situations of crisis or disaster. Only through such an approach can these countries and communities build the resilience needed to withstand future disasters and instability.

Transitioning to reconstruction and rehabilitation

Emergency relief measures generally come to an end when all humanitarian needs are under control and the authorities of the country concerned are again in a position to provide basic services to the local population. Once this has been achieved, humanitarian efforts can concentrate on reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Where a natural disaster has caused total devastation, or in the case of a prolonged crisis such as in Syria, aid programmes should include incentives for local populations to pursue their development autonomously in the medium to long term. Within the SDC, the specialists in humanitarian aid and in development cooperation often work together for the welfare of beneficiaries.

Current projects

Object 73 – 84 of 994

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.


Bangladesh Agricultural and Disaster Insurance Programme

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2028

Farmers will improve their productivity and resilience by gaining access to client-oriented and affordable agricultural insurance products. Insurance-cover will allow farmers to invest in higher-return activities, access credit and to recover faster when affected by weather, diseases and disasters. By building capacity of and facilitating coordination and linkages among key stakeholders, inclusive insurance markets will be developed to eventually cater for several million farmers.


Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in selected countries

01.08.2021 - 28.02.2026

This regional program with national implementation components supports Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) contributing to solving societal and environmental problems with a market-based approach. The contribution identifies and supports selected SEs and helps them to reach out to the poor. It serves the creation of employment and income for low-income households improving their livelihoods. SEs use innovative ideas and business models that are well-aligned with SDC’s objectives of poverty reduction.


Inclusive territorial economic development in the Muskitia region

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2028

The Muskitia indigenous region requires strategic changes that favour inclusive economic development and reduce violent conflict over land use and maritime resources. For this reason the program strengthens territorial governance, improves the business climate and increases access to services. This includes supporting 8 of the 12 territorial councils in stimulating productive sector value chains such as cocoa, fish, and basic grains that generate employment and income for 10,000 families and consolidate indigenous businesses.


Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca region

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2027

The water governance system in the Gulf of Fonseca region needs significant change in order to overcome its dysfunctionality and ensure a sustainable supply of water. To this end, the program promotes coordinated management of five watersheds by the various public and private water users, addressing conflicts peacefully in a fragile context. In addition, support is provided for technical, legal and institutional solutions that also have an effect at the national level.


CLIMATE AND CLEAN AIR IN LATIN AMERICAN CITIES PLUS (CALAC+) PROGRAMME

01.03.2021 - 28.02.2023

Air pollution is an important impediment to sustainable development in cities, and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon represent a major trigger for climate change. Supporting increasing voluntary efforts, CALAC+ will assist clean air strategies in five Latin American cities by fostering normative and technological changes and share lessons at the global level. Capacity building will use the comparative advantage of Swiss experience and the private sector’s interest to increase its stance in urban clean air issues.


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2021 - 30.06.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


Joint Peace Fund

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2027

After 60 years of conflict, the government and 8 Ethnic Armed Groups have signed a National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015, opening up a unique opportunity to find lasting peace. The Joint Peace Fund is a multi-donor fund set up to channel coordinated international support for such efforts, including the implementation of the NCA and following political dialogue of the peace process, a requirement for development especially in border areas.


Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies (Sustainable Develoment Goal 16+)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2030

The promotion of peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16) is integral to the success of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In order to accelerate its implementation, a group of UN Member States are coming together to leveraging intersections within the Agenda (16+) and to accelerate national and international implementation, while building a movement of the willing around three grand challenges. Switzerland is a co-convener, a member and a donor to this initiative.


Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens RESPECT

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2026

L’intervention renforce la gouvernance du secteur de sécurité tunisien et les capacités institutionnelles de prévention de l’extrémisme violent. Elle contribue ainsi à une meilleure protection des citoyennes et des citoyens tunisiens à travers une assistance vers une gestion de la sécurité redevable et efficace, et à travers un soutien à la définition et à la mise en œuvre de politiques publiques limitant le phénomène de l’extrémisme violent.

 


Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement (ASLI)

01.10.2020 - 31.07.2028

Farming households in the Central Highlands of Afghanistan suffer from high levels of poverty and food insecurity. Their agricultural productivity remains low due to insufficient access to inputs and information. The Agricultural Services and Livelihood Improvement (ASLI) project aims to improve the livelihoods of poor rural families by strengthening the public extension system at subnational level to enable targeted, demand-driven agricultural service delivery.


Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.09.2020 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.

Object 73 – 84 of 994