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30.11.2012 - Press release
Switzerland wants to increase aid to Syrian civilians

The Federal Council has submitted a request to Parliament to increase the funds available for humanitarian aid to the people of Syria to CHF 5 million. This interim funding is intended to build up the underfinanced programmes of the international organisations currently providing support in the region. The Federal Council notes that the humanitarian situation in Syria is steadily deteriorating and that the affected sections of the Syrian population are urgently in need of more support before winter sets in.

In view of the continuing violence and insecurity in Syria and the approach of winter, which is severe in this region, the Federal Council wants to increase humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Specifically, it would provide an additional CHF 2 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), CHF 1 million for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Syria, a further CHF 1 million for UNHCR efforts in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq) and an additional CHF 1 million for the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF. This amount will be put before Parliament for approval.

The additional funds are to be used mainly for winter relief in the form of blankets, heaters, mattresses and clothing. UNICEF will use the new funds to provide psychosocial support for traumatised refugee children as well as to enable 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq to have access to water and sanitation facilities. The CHF 5 million top-up brings the total of Swiss aid to the people of Syria to some CHF 19 million.

In addition, Switzerland is currently considering the possibility of organising an international conference on Syria that it would host in Geneva at the beginning of 2013 together with other actors, in particular the EU. The aim of the conference would be to strengthen the international humanitarian aid in Syria and in its neighbouring countries, which are carrying the main burden of the influx of refugees from Syria. In particular, more financial resources need to be made available to alleviate the human suffering of the affected population. In addition, Switzerland considers that there should be a show of cross-border solidarity with the victims of the conflict and that a strong demand be addressed to the warring parties to comply with international humanitarian law by ensuring humanitarian access to the affected population and the safety of humanitarian personnel.

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