Federal Council consults foreign affairs committees on aid payments to Middle East

Bern, 24.04.2024 - At its meeting on 24 April 2024, the Federal Council decided to proceed with the planned use of CHF 56 million of humanitarian funding earmarked for the Middle East. The FDFA has been instructed to consult with the foreign affairs committees on this matter. A decision on the disbursement of the Swiss contribution to UNRWA will be made at a later date.

As decided by Parliament in December 2023, disbursements for the Middle East under the 'Humanitarian operations' credit for 2024 will be made in instalments and only after consultation with the foreign affairs committees. The Federal Council's MENA Strategy 2021–24 groups the occupied Palestinian territory, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria under Near East. For this specific region, the Federal Council has earmarked CHF 56.2 million for the first instalment, with funding going to organisations from Switzerland (such as the Swiss Red Cross, Fondation Terre des Hommes, Caritas), the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies, and international and local NGOs (Danish Refugee Council, Handicap International, Save the Children).

Following the serious allegations levelled against UNRWA, Switzerland has not yet transferred the contributions planned for 2024. The Federal Council will take its decision on disbursement of funding to UNRWA at a later date. It has taken note of the publication on 22 April of the report on the external review of UNRWA led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna and will now study the report in detail. It will then take a decision regarding UNRWA on the basis of an overall assessment.

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