Swiss reopen liaison office in Baghdad

The reopened liaison office will help distribute humanitarian relief to Iraqis Keystone

The Swiss liaison office in Baghdad has reopened, just days after President Bush declared that the war in Iraq was officially over.

This content was published on May 5, 2003 - 17:58

The joint initiative by the foreign ministry and the Swiss Development Agency (SDC) will focus initially on helping to repair the country's battered infrastructure.

SDC spokesman, Jean-Philippe Jutzi, told swissinfo that the two parties felt the time was right to reopen the office after agreeing that the security situation in Baghdad had improved.

Jutzi said the office would be staffed by six Swiss - three from the foreign ministry and three from the SDC.

The building had been spared during the conflict and was not damaged by looting, according to Jutzi.


Daniel Beyeler - the SDC's man in Baghdad until two days before the hostilities broke out in March - will take charge of the office once more.

Jutzi described what Beyeler's first few days in the driving seat might entail.

"Beyeler will contact the people with whom he was working with before - from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss charity, Care. They will help the Swiss government to continue the help that the Swiss was already giving to international organisations," said Jutzi.

The main projects involving the Swiss are concerned with the most urgent needs of the Iraqi population - water sanitation and medical assistance.


"There are quite important problems with water sanitation and it can lead to epidemics and severe health problems within the population," explained Jutzi.

Beyeler will also advise the Swiss government on whether the country should fund or set up further projects in Iraq.

Projects funded by the Swiss government started in the region in 2001 and continued until two days before the US-led war began on March 20.

Jutzi says Switzerland has pledged a long-term commitment to Iraq, and since 2001 has spent between SFr 4-6 million ($3-5 million) a year on aid for the country.

In April, the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, said rebuilding Iraq was a key priority for Switzerland as she authorised an extra SFr20 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq.

swissinfo, Faryal Mirza and Ramsey Zarifeh

In brief

Switzerland has reopened its Baghdad liaison office after nearly two months.

The office was closed during the US-led war in Iraq, which began on March 20.

It will be staffed by six Swiss employees, who will work alongside groups providing humanitarian relief in Iraq, such as ICRC and the Swiss charity, Care.

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