Switzerland approves CHF 20 million in additional aid for victims of the Syria crisis

Bern, 07.06.2013 - There is no end in sight to the violence in Syria and the humanitarian situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. On 7 June 2013, the UN in Geneva published its assistance plans for Syria and neighbouring countries for the second half of 2013. The UN and its partners have requested USD 4.4 billion to alleviate suffering. Switzerland intends to add CHF 20 million to the CHF 30 million already provided for the victims since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.

The UN describes the Syrian conflict as the fastest escalating refugee crisis of the last 20 years. Some 1.6 million Syrians have already sought refuge outside of the country. The UN expects the number of refugees to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year. The crisis has so far claimed 80,000 lives and 6.8 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid in Syria.

In total USD 4.4 billion is needed for the various UN aid programmes: USD 3 billion has been estimated for the programmes in neighbouring countries and Egypt, and 1.4 billion for the people in Syria. The ICRC has also increased its assistance plan for 2013 from CHF 68 million to CHF 130 million.
Switzerland has earmarked CHF 30 million for the victims of the Syrian crisis since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011. This amount will now be increased by CHF 20 million to CHF 50 million.

The additional funding from Switzerland will in part be used to support UN partners and the ICRC, which reach many affected people throughout Syria and the region. The funding will also go towards projects carried out directly by Swiss Humanitarian Aid, for example supporting families and communities in northern Lebanon which have taken in Syrian refugees. More than CHF 3.9 million has been spent on this project to date, providing support to 1,800 host families and around 15,000 refugees from Syria.

Finally, Swiss experts will be seconded as reinforcements to UN agencies. Their expertise is sorely needed by UN agencies in crisis situations such as this.

Humanitarian aid is one of the three pillars of Switzerland's policy towards the Syrian conflict. A second pillar is to support efforts towards a political settlement. Switzerland therefore supports the political mission of the Special Representative of the UN and Arab League. The third pillar is the fight against impunity. Switzerland has repeatedly called on the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to ensure that the perpetrators of war crimes or crimes against humanity can be brought to justice, no matter what side of the conflict they are on.

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