Spending on international cooperation and humanitarian aid fell by over 5% in 2016 while hosting asylum seekers cost Switzerland 42% more.
According to the foreign ministry, Switzerland was able to save CHF143 million ($142.5 million) in overseas assistance spending thanks to “cost saving measure” put in place by the federal government. As a result spending on international initiatives dropped to 0.39% of Gross National Income, compared to 0.41% in 2015.
However, official spending on Overseas Development Aid (ODA) went up thanks to a 42% increase –CHF202 million - in spending on asylum seekers. The OECD – a group of rich countries that Switzerland belongs to – allows for costs associated with refugees for the first 12 months to count as ODA. It also includes expenses associated with sending asylum seekers back to their country of origin. Hence, the significant increase in asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and Afghanistan in the second half of 2015 helped boost the official Swiss ODA tally to CHF3.51 billion, an increase of CHF114 million over 2015.