The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Switzerland opens humanitarian office in Damascus 'to monitor and improve relief services' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Switzerland opens humanitarian office in Damascus 'to monitor and improve relief services'

Switzerland aims to secure humanitarian access to the affected population [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 December, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Switzerland is the fist western country, excluding the European Union, to open such an office since the Syria's devastating conflict began nearly seven years ago.
The Swiss government said on Thursday that it has opened a "humanitarian office" in Damascus aimed at improving aid distribution and at monitoring and coordinating assistance programmes on the ground.

Switzerland is thus the fist western country, excluding the European Union, to open such an office since the Syria's devastating conflict began nearly seven years ago.

"We finally have eyes and ears in Damascus," Manuel Bessler, the Swiss government official in charge of humanitarian aid, said in an interview on the SRF radio station.

The new office, which opened a few weeks ago and currently has a single staff member, does not constitute a political or diplomatic presence for Switzerland.

Instead, it aims to "monitor more closely the dialogue to secure humanitarian access to the affected population," a government statement said.

The humanitarian situation in Syria remains alarming and support is needed from the international community, including Switzerland, now more than ever

The office will also make it possible to "intensify efforts to improve relief services and to better monitor projects on the ground" in Syria, which currently is the focus of Switzerland's biggest humanitarian operation, it said.

"The humanitarian situation in Syria remains alarming and support is needed from the international community, including Switzerland, now more than ever," the statement said.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

Since Switzerland shut its embassy in the spring of 2012, it has mainly carried out its humanitarian efforts through its representations in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and the government said those would continue to play a central role in its work.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More