Switzerland spent nearly SFr2.5 billion on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2009 – or 0.47 per cent of its Gross National Product.
In a statement on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said this represented an increase of 11.9 per cent compared to 2008.
This was mainly due to debt-relief measures for Togo and Congo-Brazzaville, as well as a large rise in costs of dealing with asylum seekers.
According to the guidelines published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the costs engendered by asylum-seekers from developing countries can, in the first year of their stay, be charged to the account of ODA.
In 2009, these disbursements altogether represented 15% of Switzerland's ODA.
But the Swiss Alliance of Development Organisations, Alliance Sud, sharply criticised the government’s decision to do this, since it is not related in any way to providing assistance to developing countries.
Alliance Sud has called on Switzerland to up its ODA funding percentage to 0.7 per cent of GNP, as demanded of industrialised nations by the United Nations.
The Swiss parliament agreed in December 2008 to increase spending to 0.5 per cent by 2015.
swissinfo.ch and agencies