During natural disasters or serious health crises, the Directorate for Development and Cooperation (DDC) may be called upon to deploy the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Corps (SHA) in the country in question. To rescue victims, the SHA mobilises the Swiss Rescue Chain, with a team of around a hundred people.
The HUG offers a pool composed of medical, paramedical, administrative or technical staff for emergency care. These people may be mobilised at any time and must be able to reach Zurich within six hours.
Other actors in humanitarian aid (ICRC, MSF) may also be supported during emergency missions by employees having previously received basic training, delivered by HUG experts in humanitarian medicine.
Over the course of the last few years, the HUG has most notably been mobilised during the earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Nepal (2015), and during the Ebola epidemics (2014-2015 in West Africa, and again in 2018-2019 in the DRC). In 2020, a HUG team was sent to Libya by the SHA after a devastating explosion in the port of Beirut.