There are currently 65 million people on the move – 22.5 million of them outside their home country. HEKS/EPER wishes to send a message of hope for these people and to assist them during their journey. HEKS/EPER therefore provides emergency aid for refugees in crisis areas, along escape routes, and here in Switzerland.
Help in crisis areas
HEKS provides on-the-spot emergency aid for civilians affected by war, violence and destruction, for example in Syria, Iraq or South Sudan and distributes food, toiletries, wool blankets and other everyday necessities to the neediest families. To defuse social tensions, HEKS/EPER also supports projects in villages where there are very large numbers of internally displaced families. For example, smallholder families and internally displaced people living in Iraq and South Sudan are assisted in collectively growing grain and vegetables.
Help in neighbouring countries
Some 84 per cent of the world's refugees seek protection in developing countries, for the most part in neighbouring countries in crisis regions. These countries are entirely overburdened, however. HEKS/EPER therefore maintains humanitarian aid projects in Lebanon, which has taken in some 1.5 million refugees, in refugee camps in Uganda, to which more than a million people have fled from South Sudan, or in Bangladesh, where half a million members of the Rohingya Muslim minority have taken refuge. Depending on the situation, these emergency relief projects provide people with food vouchers, hygiene kits or clean drinking water, repair their dwellings or enable them to earn a small income through cash-for-work programmes.
Assistance along escape routes
Since the closing of national borders along the Balkan route in early 2016, many refugees have remained stuck in the Balkans and can make no further headway. HEKS/EPER is present in Serbia and offers assistance, for example, in providing and maintaining various accommodation facilities for refugees. Besides, HEKS/EPER has been supporting the "humanitarian corridors" project in Italy from 2016 to 2019, under which highly vulnerable Syrian war refugees with a humanitarian visa are safely airlifted to Italy and given support in making a fresh start there.
Assistance in Switzerland
In Switzerland too, HEKS/EPER endeavours at the political and social levels to ensure that people facing existential danger continue to find refuge and support in Switzerland. In this context HEKS/EPER initiates and supports actions and projects conducive to the smooth, rapid and sustainable integration of refugees. HEKS/EPER likewise encourages civil society engagement in favour of refugees.