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Press release from Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Government adopts new development assistance strategy for Middle East and North Africa, focusing on economic development and counteracting irregular migration


The Government has decided on a new strategy for development cooperation with the Middle East and North Africa. The strategy amounts to nearly SEK 2.3 billion (approx. EUR 230 million) distributed over four years (2024–2027). Its purpose is to support actors working for more stable and democratic development, and to counteract the root causes of irregular migration.

The Middle East and North Africa is part of Sweden’s and the EU’s neighbourhood, and Sweden is thus directly affected by developments in the region. Sweden and the EU received a particularly large number of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa as a result of ongoing conflicts and instability. It is therefore in Sweden’s strategic interest to support peaceful development and improved prospects in the region to thereby counteract irregular migration.

“We are now engaging in a total overhaul. We’ve drawn conclusions from the necessary review of development assistance to Palestine that the Government initiated following the terrorist attacks of 7 October last year. We’re therefore introducing clearer requirements for channelling aid. We want to be certain that Swedish aid is always transparent and used effectively. This is a prerequisite to enable aid to contribute to peaceful development, but also for Swedish taxpayers to be entirely sure that their money is making a difference,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell. 


Development assistance is now taking on a new direction, focusing on economic and private sector development, counteracting irregular migration, and promoting human rights and freedoms, peace and security. The purpose is to tackle cross-border challenges such as protracted conflicts, extremism, oppression and lack of freedom, and discrimination against women and girls. 

Funds will be earmarked for Yemen and Palestine specifically. In Yemen, development cooperation will support basic public services such as health and education and help improve livelihood opportunities.

In Palestine, the previous bilateral strategy is being phased out and development cooperation is taking on a new direction. Operations will counteract extremism, Islamism and antisemitism, contribute to economic development, improve access to health medical care, and promote a two-state solution in line with international law. The new strategy requires that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) address the shortcomings that have been detected in connection with its in-depth review of development assistance to Palestine. This is also clarified in the strategy. Meticulous risk management must be mainstreamed throughout implementation, and the number of cooperation partners must be limited.

Sida, the Swedish Institute and the Folke Bernadotte Academy are tasked with implementing the strategy in the region’s low- and middle-income countries.

Press contact

Victoria Holmqvist
Press Secretary to Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00
Mobile +46 76-142 29 39
email to Victoria Holmqvist