Switzerland steps up winter aid for Ukrainians

Bern, 20.12.2023 - Facing the severe challenges of an unforgiving winter, millions in Ukraine find themselves in dire need of assistance. In response, Switzerland's federal government is supporting the beleaguered Ukrainian population this winter too with targeted action and an additional CHF 11.8 million in aid. This brings the total investment in winter relief measures up to around CHF 26 million.

These measures include the government's support for several non-governmental organisations that are delivering life-saving winter assistance. This assistance has made it possible to repair almost 1,000 flats and houses and distribute heating material to around 1,300 households in frontline areas. In recent months, specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) have played a pivotal role in restoring water supply systems and pumping stations, securing district heating, and ensuring access to clean drinking water. In autumn, Switzerland also dispatched 20 tonnes of equipment from the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU). This shipment included essential items such as winter boots and sleeping bags. In addition, Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is actively engaged in the areas of energy efficiency, municipal energy management, district heating renovation and renewable energies. For example, SECO has extended its support and is financing the renovation of district heating networks and the installation of solar power generators.

Expanding multilateral engagement

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is amplifying its support for the United Nations' Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF) winter aid programme with an infusion of CHF 1.8 million, raising its total contribution to CHF 5.8 million. These funds are earmarked for heating, winter clothing, rental support (including for increased heating and energy costs) and the housing insulation.

The SDC is also supporting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) winter aid programme with CHF 3 million. This support is aimed in particular at internally displaced persons and those living in war-affected areas, providing cash assistance and household necessities such as sleeping bags, blankets and cooking utensils. SECO is committing CHF 10 million to the European Energy Community's Energy Support Fund to repair damaged energy infrastructure.

Last winter, the SDC and SECO had already allocated CHF 54 million for durable repairs through a World Bank fund. This ongoing effort is primarily aimed at rebuilding Ukraine's energy infrastructure, damaged by targeted Russian attacks, ensuring the continued supply of electricity and heat, and maintaining decent living conditions.

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