Switzerland to reopen humanitarian aid office in Kabul by summer 2024

Photo: Reuters

Switzerland plans to reopen a humanitarian aid office in Kabul by summer 2024, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced. The office will include four members from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit and will employ local staff as well.

Léa Zürcher, spokeswoman for the department, confirmed the plans in response to an enquiry from the Keystone-SDA news agency, echoing a report by the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick.

The department highlighted that having a presence in Kabul will enhance understanding of the local situation, improve project monitoring, and allow for closer coordination with other donor countries. This move is aimed at providing more effective support to Afghanistan’s civilian population.

The reopened office will not offer consular services. Afghan citizens seeking Swiss visas can continue to apply at the Swiss embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, the department noted.

Details about the security measures for the office were not specified, given the complex security situation in Kabul. However, Zürcher emphasized that comprehensive security measures would be implemented to minimize risks.

Switzerland previously operated a cooperation office in Kabul, implementing development aid programs until its closure in August 2021 following the Taliban’s takeover and the withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies.

The new office is planned to be located in Kabul’s former “Green Zone,” where many Western embassies were once situated, according to Sonntagsblick.