UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Bern for talks with Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Bern, 21.10.2021 - On 21 October 2021, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was in Bern for talks with Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and SDC Director General Patricia Danzi. The meeting with Mr Cassis focused on cooperation between Switzerland and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as the crises in Afghanistan, Libya, Syrie and Yemen.

Mr Cassis, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), reiterated at the meeting with Mr Grandi that Switzerland would continue to actively support efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. He also talked about the additional funds pledged by Switzerland at the UN Conference on Afghanistan, which took place in Geneva on 13 September. This additional funding will be discussed by Parliament this December. The role donor countries can play in ensuring that organisations like the UNHCR are able to respond quickly and adequately to crises, and meet the needs of the affected people as best possible, was also raised. In addition, Mr Cassis gave his assurance that Switzerland would continue to make a significant contribution to the Global Compact for Refugees, and that it would co-host the upcoming High-level Officials Meeting in December, as it did at the Global Refugee Forum.

SDC Director General Patricia Danzi also exchanged views with Mr Grandi on the precarious situation in Afghanistan. The SDC Director emphasized the importance of cooperation with the UNHCR. She also noted the success of the Geneva Technical Hub in particular, which provides technical assistance to the UNHCR and its partner organisations with the aim of mitigating any negative effects of humanitarian work on the environment and in the field of disaster risk reduction.

The UNHCR is Swiss Humanitarian Aid's third largest partner. To bolster the UNHCR's flexibility and planning security, the Swiss Parliament decided in 2019 to grant the organisation a four-year voluntary contribution of CHF 125 million. This year's contribution to the UNHCR amounts to CHF 32 million. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit also has 22 members that can be deployed to the UNHCR, in particular for missions concerned with water, hygiene and sanitation. The UNHCR is the UN's largest agency and has its head office in Geneva. It supports and advocates in particular for refugees, internally displaced persons and stateless people – in total around 80 million people all over the world.

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