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The Swiss Delegate for Humanitarian Aid, Manuel Bessler, announced the new financial contribution at the International Donor Conference organised by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Kuwait on 30 January 2013. «Supporting those in need in the region and helping the UN to secure sufficient financing in response to its urgent appeal for humanitarian aid are a priority for Switzerland. We have therefore earmarked CHF 10 million for the current year to assist persons in need of protection in Syria and neighbouring countries», announced Manuel Bessler to the delegates assembled in Kuwait.
As the war in Syria reduces an ever growing number of people to poverty, humanitarian organisations are in need of additional funding for relief operations. The UN has appealed to the international community for an additional USD 1.5 billion in the period from January to June 2013 to assist the nearly five million people in need. According to OCHA, this represents the largest ever humanitarian appeal for such a short time span.
Citing the large numbers involved and the severity of winter conditions, Bessler said Switzerland hopes the international community will help the UN to meet its target for funds, adding: «I would like to thank Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for their generosity and readiness to continue offering refuge to the hundreds of thousands of refugees. The funds in question will also help these countries to support the additional burden.»
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is at present concentrating its humanitarian efforts on protecting and assisting those affected in Syria as well as Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries. Its efforts are focused on three priority areas: contributions in cash and in kind to the humanitarian organisations (ICRC, UN, international NGOs, local relief agencies); direct bilateral aid; and the secondment of technical experts to UN partner organisations from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA).
Switzerland, which traditionally plays a significant role in international humanitarian cooperation, is to host the «7th Syria Humanitarian Forum» on 19 February in Geneva. More than 350 participants, including representatives of UN member states, UN aid agencies, regional organisations and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), will gather to exchange views on the Syrian crisis.