Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP, 1 January - 30 June 2013)

19 December 2012

The events in Syria since March 2011 have resulted in significant humanitarian needs that have now spread to many areas of the country, and have further grown since the drafting of the revised Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (HARP) in September 2012.  The Government of Syria, in collaboration with UN agencies, is launching a new HARP for the period from 1 January 2013 to the end of June 2013.  This plan will serve around four million people, as estimated by the UN,  that have been directly or indirectly affected by the current events including the drought, among them two million who have left their homes because of the current situation.  As under the previous plans, the directly affected populations include those injured during the events, families who lost their breadwinners or left their home areas as well as relatives, friends and communities hosting them.

The indirect effects of the current events threaten a second major category of Syrians due to multiple effects of the current events.  These include primarily: the aggravation of poverty; damage to housing and infrastructure including water and power utilities, schools, medical and other social service facilities, industrial and agricultural infrastructure (including fertilizer production and pharmaceutical industry); shortages of fuels, which affect the whole economy, including electricity and water supplies as well as transportation; disruptions to telecommunications; a rapid shrinkage of the private sector and most importantly the informal sector that employs a large proportion of the population leading to livelihood losses and rising unemployment, including in industry, agriculture and tourism; unsafe movement on major routes in the country and across borders is hindering internal and external transit and trade and inflating prices; the rising costs of imports due to devaluation of the local currency.  The effect of economic sanctions is further aggravating the situation, in particular as international transactions become more difficult for both the public and the private sectors.  Sanctions also significantly affected the import of fuel derivatives, which created shortages in the local market and resulted in the increase of prices of diesel and heating oil, as well as overall living costs for families.

The need for humanitarian assistance in affected areas is increasing in order to save lives and to avoid a large segment of the Syrian population falling into destitution and seeing a further decline in their health, psychological and nutritional status. 

All humanitarian assistance is, and will continue to be, delivered with full respect to the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic during the implementation of this Response Plan.  Decisions on strategic or logistical issues including field office locations should be done after formal consultations with the government in order to receive the clearance and accreditation.

This revised Response Plan will be implemented according to UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182, titled “Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Emergency Assistance of the United Nations” and the Guiding Principles in its annex.

The priority needs differ from one area to another: in the directly affected areas, life-saving measures including food assistance, water supplies, nutrition and emergency medical services and non-food items are the priority and need scaled-up support.  Support to the government in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical infrastructure and vital services is required in a number of locations.  Adequate alternative shelter arrangements are urgently needed for those that left their homes as a result of the current events and are currently staying in schools and other public facilities with limited sanitary facilities.  Until affected people are able to safely return home, they are in need for additional assistance, including food, mattresses and bedding, kitchen and hygiene sets, clothes, baby supplies and other basic items.  Many have lost their sources of income and require cash assistance and income-generating activities in order to cover their immediate requirements for a minimum standard of living.  The increasing number of families who lost their primary income earner requires particular attention in order to avoid the resorting to negative coping strategies.  Adequate sanitary conditions and access to clean water are crucial in these temporary settings to avoid the outbreak of diseases.  As host communities’ resources are becoming increasingly exhausted, they need additional support, including through the provision of food and non-food items.  Schools, medical facilities and other public infrastructure and services in indirectly affected areas need to be upgraded or rehabilitated in order to cope with the additional number of people and needs. 

Access to education is critical for the children affected by the events.  The Ministry of Education (MoE) has encouraged the enrolment of all children affected.  The generosity of the school principals has been remarkable, but challenges remain.  The figures provided by the Ministry in fact show that some governorates have very low attendance rates, because schools have been targeted or are hosting people that left their homes.  Full attention should be given to cases of most affected children.  Those affected by the on-going events, in particular children and women require access to psychosocial support to cope with their negative experiences.  Once the situation allows for the return of those that have temporarily left their homes, the restoration of livelihoods and the reconstruction or rehabilitation of homes and infrastructure is critical for their sustainable reintegration.  Direct cash assistance may be needed, particularly for those that have left their homes because of the current events for a considerable period of time and have lost their means of livelihoods and income as a result of the events.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) has been designated as the leading national provider of humanitarian relief and through its thousands of trained and committed volunteers has provided the bulk of humanitarian assistance to date.  SARC’s own analysis states that humanitarian needs are growing daily and that its capacity has to be further enhanced to respond to these needsMore can be done to ensure more regular and predictable supplies to SARC and to further build its capacity.  To date, most relief items have been purchased in-country.  While this continues to be the preferred approach, other complimentary options may have to be explored, especially because essential supplies, like for example medicines are less available compared to the situation before to the current events.  Purchases inside the country will also be affected by inflationary pressures.

The participation of other international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, as reiterated by the participants of the joint Humanitarian Group Meeting that was held on 5 November 2012 in Damascus, has proven be very beneficial.  The UN agencies welcome the willingness of the Government of Syria to support the expansion of local stakeholder’s efforts to strengthen the response to the growing needs. 

Under the Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan, the UNCT and its partners in collaboration with SARC and under the leadership of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic have significantly scaled up their activities and there is an urgent need for more humanitarian assistance to reach those in need.  Humanitarian activities include, inter alia: the monthly distribution of food for 1.5 million people in all 14 governorates; provision of basic household and winter items and cash assistance to those who have left their homes because of the current events; rehabilitation of communal shelters, with a particular focus during the winter, the delivery of water and hygiene support to and the upgrading of sanitation facilities in communal centres housing people that had to; provision of additional health and education services; commencement of a country-wide measles and polio vaccination campaigns; and, provision of livelihood support to poor affected farmers and herders.  As there is a threat from explosive remnants of war (ERW), in particular for people that have left or return to their homes, as well as aid workers, SARC volunteers, risk awareness and risk-reduction activities need to be prioritized to avoid casualties. 

UNRWA, with the support of the General Authority for Palestine Refugees in Syria (GAFAR), has continued to provide multi-sector humanitarian assistance to the Palestine Refugees in Syria, also affected by the current events.

This Response Plan builds on the findings of recent sectoral assessments undertaken by concerned ministries (e.g.  Ministries of Education, Social Affairs and Labour, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, and local administration) and UN agencies, including through field missions to affected governorates.  It aims at adequately responding to the increased humanitarian needs of the population directly and indirectly affected by the current events in Syria from January 2013 to end of June 2013. 

In terms of the most urgent needs, the 2013 Response Plan considers the following four categories of the affected population, in order of severity: 

  • People located in or near areas subject to armed activities.
  • Affected populations who have moved to other areas. 
  • Host families and communities.
  • Poor people in urban and rural areas suffering fromthe multiple effects of the current events, including the impact of economic sanctions. 

This Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan aims at supporting the Government of Syria’s efforts in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected populations.  It will cover the period from 1 January 2013 until the end of June 2013.  The financial requirements amount to $519,627,047.[1]

In recent months, the current events have been affecting an increasing number of people across larger portions of the country while the economic decline, aggravated by economic sanctions, is now being felt by all Syrians alike.  Although no new comprehensive needs assessment has been conducted recently, sector needs assessments, combined with the figures provided by the Government, give an indication of the actual number of people affected and in need of humanitarian assistance.  Additional sector needs assessments are on-going, jointly with the different governmental counterparts and their findings will be used to respond to the identified growing needs. 

The June 2012 Rapid Access to Food Needs Assessment (JRFSNA), conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MoAAR), is currently being updated and will be completed in the second half of December 2012.  The Ministry of Local Administration(MoLA) and UN and local partners are conducting assessments of collective shelters hosting affected people who have left their homesbecause of the current events.  An assessment for the WASH Sector, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) is also under-way.

Recent data from the Ministry of Health (MoH) show that 35% of hospitals and approximately 10% of health centres are reported as damaged.  The emergency transport system is affected by a shortage of available ambulances as over 40% of the total available ambulances have been damaged.  Patients as well as health care workers face problems reaching health facilities as a result of the on-going events.  Assessed shortages of life-saving medicines (including for non-communicable diseases), personnel and medical equipment indicate that additional assistance in the Health Sector are required in order to meet the increasing needs, especially the needs of those injured during the events as well as those with chronic diseases that require uninterrupted treatment and medication.  The combined effects of economic sanctions, currency fluctuations, and unavailability of hard currency, fuel shortages, and increases in operational costs have adversely affected the production of medicines and pharmaceutical products.

Recent data from the Ministry of Education show that about 2,000 schools and other public buildings are currently hosting people that left their homes, often in overcrowded and inadequate sanitary conditions.

UNRWA is mandated to provide services to 525,525 Palestine refugees living in Syria.  UNRWA is also the core UN agency providing support for the escalating needs of Palestine refugees as a result of the current events in Syria.  UNRWA works with the support of the General Authority for Palestine Arab Refugees in Syria.

In November 2012, UNRWA undertook a comprehensive assessment of humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in Syria.  This assessment found that nearly 360,000 people or up to 90,000 families require humanitarian support.  This surpasses the previous planning figure in the 2012 HARP of 225,000 Palestine refugees affected by the current events.  The general situation throughout Syria is compounding the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees.  Food remains a critical priority for all, and NFIs needed included in particular: mattresses, blankets, quilts, and hygiene kits are needed.  Affected refugees are expected to face difficulties during the winter season in Syria, as many of them are no longer able to afford warm clothes, blankets and quilts.  Anticipated areas of concern include the limited availability of fuel for heating and the plight of refugees whose homes have been damaged.  UNRWA has also received requests for emergency cash assistance from over 90,000 families in Syria. 

Based on UN findings and analysis of the situation, it is considered that around four million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, whether they are affected directly or indirectly including those affected by the drought.  The revised Response Plan foresees projects in all 14 governorates of the country.  Therefore, and in order to maintain a level of flexibility to respond to the emerging situation, the concerned government bodies, in association with all parties participating in the Response Plan, will fine-tune figures and locations of people in need of humanitarian assistance as well as the type of assistance required during the implementation of the Response Plan.

The Government of Syria and the UN continue to explore arrangements to facilitate and increase the delivery of humanitarian assistance in order to deliver efficient and adequate assistance, administrative procedures to approve the cooperation with local associations have been simplified and streamlined.  Monitoring and reporting mechanisms have been put in place to enable standardized reporting of the assistance and achievements under the Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan.

Contributions to humanitarian assistance under the Response Plan should be provided in a way that is not to the detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development. 

The main four objectives of the Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan, according to the findings of the needs assessment and analysis of the economic and social situation, are the following:

  • Provide relief supplies (food/nutrition, medicines and medical equipment, NFIs, water and sanitation, and shelter) and appropriate emergency services to those most directly affected by the current events.
  • Provide assistance to people who left their homes as a result of the current events and to communities hosting them.
  • Support the Government in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical infrastructure and vital public services affected by the currents events through rapid repairs.
  • Address humanitarian needs of the poor who are mostly affected by the current situation in order to avoid their further destitution.

This Response Plan incorporates 61 projects in ten sectors (each focal point is in charge of presenting its project) to be coordinated by the following Programme Management arrangements:

  1. Steering Committee, chaired by the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates (or whomever he delegates), with the membership of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator (RHC).
  2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates is the Government focal point in charge of the supervision of implementation of humanitarian projects and coordination of the various sectors in an effort to avoid duplication, ensure coordination of programme data of all projects, evaluation of humanitarian needs, submission of regular reports on projects implementation, including evaluation reports.
  3. One focal point representing the Government for each of the sectors of the Response Plan, who will closely coordinate with the lead agency of the UN sectoral working groups.  

The RHC will jointly organize with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, regular meetings of the Humanitarian Working Group, which is a forum composed of the Government of Syria and the humanitarian community: UN, international and local NGOs, SARC, IFRC and ICRC established to discuss implementation of humanitarian activities within Syria. 

[1]All dollar signs in this document denote United States dollars. Funding for this Plan should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS,, which will display its requirements and funding on the current appeals page.

Document History

19 December 2012

Download the Document

Related Links

FTS links
FTS Homepage
FTS Appeal Page

ReliefWeb link
Country Page