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

Project completed

The Middle East is currently contending with two L3 crises:  Iraq and Syria. Over 20 million people need humanitarian assistance: refugees, lDPs, host communities. In line with the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-

2018, SHA experts provide technical support & strategic advice to UN agencies, contributing to a strengthened, coordinated response. The deployed experts allow Switzerland to 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
Near East
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Climate change and environment

Material relief assistance
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Environmental policy
24.02.2016 - 31.12.2017
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 deterio­ rated. 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 4.3 million Syrian refugees (January 2016 figures) are registered and/or assisted by host governments and humanitarian agencies. In Iraq, in addition to the 3.2 million internally displaced persons (lOPs), 250'000 Syrian refugees, mostly with Kurdish origins, have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR- 1). 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 lOPs) 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 SOC has no representation.

Target groups


  • UN agencies benefiting from knowledge, expertise and networking.


  • The civilian population affected by the armed conflict inside Syria (13.5 million in need in Syria out of which 7.6 million IDPs) and inside Iraq (10 million in need in Iraq out of which 3.2 million IDPs and 250'000 Syrian refugees).
  • Palestine Refugees
  • Syrians fleeing into neighbouring countries (4.5 million people registered by UNHCR in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt by beginning of 2016).
  • 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 SOC enhanced.
  • Continuous and close follow-up of the activities ensured.
  • Project management insured.
  • Institutional memory documented and knowledge transferred.
  • Better informed context analysis of SOC.
  • Enhanced presence of SOC in the region.

Since March 2011, Swiss experts were on 49 missions (in shelter, cash, WASH and coordination) and have been deployed to UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRWA, WFP, ILO, OCHA 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    802’921 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   2’900’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   4’900’000
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)