War has been raging in Syria for five years. The Swiss, more than all others, responded enthusiastically to the various appeals launched by Swiss Solidarity, especially during the international days of solidarity held in November 2012 and September 2015. The 51.5 million francs raised for Syria has surpassed the record 49 million francs raised in 1999 to help victims of the conflict in Kosovo.580,000 beneficiaries in Syria and neighbouring countries
Since 2012, in Syria and neighbouring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey), Swiss Solidarity has supported 65 projects run by 10 partner organisations which have helped over 580,000 victims. These were primarily “cash” projects which enable the most vulnerable people to obtain relief items or receive the services they personally consider most important. Swiss Solidarity has also supported a number of programs—health, housing assistance, psychosocial support for traumatised children and assistance for people with disabilities. All of these projects include support for local populations—Lebanese, Jordanian or Iraqi—to help ease potential tensions with and among refugees. 13 projects are still underway.
Swiss Solidarity has also been funding relief projects since 2015 for refugees en route to Europe, projects being implemented by the flexible mobile teams of its partner organisations working in the Balkans. The assistance includes distributing food, water, hygiene kits, blankets and supplies for winter. Children receive psychological support, while medical care is given special importance, especially along the border between Greece and Macedonia, where thousands of migrants are currently stranded. To date, a total of 240,000 beneficiaries have been helped by five partner organisations in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Five projects are still underway and will receive further support from Swiss Solidarity as the situation evolves.
With the Syrian crisis entering its sixth year and no political resolution in sight, the international community is seeking more sustainable solutions to help refugees. Relief projects must include components to bolster capabilities so that beneficiaries can provide for their own needs.
In light of these developments and wishing to support its partners, Swiss Solidarity recently commissioned a study to identify avenues for potential actions which could be taken to favour the resilience of affected people.
In total, Swiss Solidarity has spent and committed 46 million Swiss francs. Committed funds will cover the balance of on-going and future projects planned to take place in the coming months. “It is essential to ensure continuity of the Swiss NGO’s humanitarian response in such a context,” says Manolo Caviezel, Project Manager at Swiss Solidarity and specialised in the Syrian context. The 5.5 million francs left over from refugee-oriented fundraising initiatives will be used to finance similar projects and new relief operations in Syria, neighbouring countries and along the Balkan route.