Swiss experts to UN agencies in the frame of the regional crises in the Middle East

Project completed

As a result of the ongoing violence in Syria and in Iraq, more than 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria and 5.2 million people in Iraq by end of 2014. 3.3 million Syrian refugees (January 2015 figures) are registered and/or assisted by host governments, what leads to heavy burden on the resources of the host communities. SDC secondments to UN agencies of Swiss experts allow technical support, advice and strategic planning in the three domains of intervention of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018 (Basic services and emergency relief; Protection; Water), as well as in the domain of coordination. Through its experts, Switzerland can expand its operational engagement and humanitarian presence in the region, including in contexts where SDC has no office (Iraq and Syria).

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Climate change and environment
Human rights
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Emergency food assistance
Housing (till 2016)
Material relief assistance
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Environmental policy
Primary health care
Sector not specified
Reconstruction and rehabilitation (till 2016)
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
01.01.2015 - 31.12.2016
CHF  2’000’000

Since 2011, the Middle East has been facing violent crises in Syria and Iraq, which has had serious repercussions on their neighbouring countries. The humanitarian situation has continuously deterio­rated. In Syria and Iraq, the civilian population has been suffering from armed violence and human rights violations at large scale as well as from a lack of access to food, water, shelter and direly needed medical assistance. In Syria over 7.6 million people are internally displaced, while 3.3 million Syrian refugees (January 2015 figures) are registered and/or assisted by host governments and humanitarian agencies. In Iraq, in addition to the 2.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), 223’000 Syrian refugees, mostly with Kurdish origins, have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). The neighbouring countries Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have largely continued to provide the Syrian refugees with access to their territory and safety, but the heavy burden on resources and basic services continues to grow and has led to increasing tensions with the host communities.


The response capacity of UN agencies and their implementing partners is strenghtened to meet emergency and prolonged displacement needs of forcibly displaced Syrians and Iraqis (refugees and IDPs) as well as vulnerable host communities.

Moreover, the Swiss presence and visibility in the region is enhanced, including in contexts like Iraq and Syria where SDC has no representation.

Target groups


  • UN agencies benefiting from knowledge, expertise and networking. 


  • The civilian population affected by the armed conflict inside Syria (12.2 million in need in Syria out of which 7.6 million IDPs) and inside Iraq (5.2 million in need in Iraq out of which 2.1 million IDPs and 223’000 Syrian refugees).
  • Palestine Refugees
  • Syrians fleeing into neighbouring countries (3.2 million people registered by UNHCR in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt by beginning of 2015).
  • Host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and their national authorities.
Medium-term outcomes
  • Response to emergency and longer-term basic services and emergency relief (shelter, education, cash and humanitarian coordination) is strengthened. 
  • Response to meet protection needs is strengthened.
  • Response to emergency and longer-term water needs is strengthened.

Expected results:  

With the secondment of Swiss experts to UN agencies, the following outputs will be achieved:

  • Technical support and advice for the provision of shelter in camps and non-camp settings for vulnerable displaced persons.
  • Technical support, advice and strategic planning on activities in the domain of water (camp and non-camp settings).
  • Technical support for a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder strategy for cash-based response for IDPs, refugees and host communities.
  • Technical support and advice for the protection of the most vulnerable population, including children and youth.
  • Support to the coordination of humanitarian interventions within the UN agencies and national/international actors.

Results from previous phases:  

  • Efficiency of the UN agencies supported by SDC enhanced.
  • Continuous and close follow-up of the activities ensured.
  • Project management insured.
  • Institutional memory documented and knowledge transferred.
  • Better informed context analysis of SDC.
  • Enhanced presence of SDC in the region.

Since March 2011, Swiss experts were on 39 missions (in shelter, cash, WASH and coordination) and have been deployed to UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRWA, WFP, ILO and UNDP in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
  • Schweizerisches Arbeiterhilfswerk

Coordination with other projects and actors

SDC supports the Syria Strategic Response Plan (SRP), the Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan (3RP), as well as the respective national plans through multilateral support (financial contribution and secondments of experts), bilateral and direct actions, and humanitarian dialogue. In Iraq, SDC supports different NGOs, ICRC, as well as UN agencies.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’801’791 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   900’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   2’900’000
Project phases Phase 3 24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)

Phase 2 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.10.2013 - 31.12.2014   (Completed)