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Syria: A record US$7 billion pledged for one of the great crises of our time

14 Mar 2019
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Credit: UNICEF

At the third Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, today donors pledged US$6.97 billion to sustain the ongoing response to a crisis that is entering its ninth year, and that has caused record levels of humanitarian needs inside Syria and a refugee crisis in the region. Part of the overall pledge is for the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey this year.

These funds are vital as the UN is urgently seeking increased funding to help people in need through a US$3.3 billion appeal for the response inside Syria, and a US$5.5 billion refugee and resilience plan for the neighbouring countries.

“I am pleased with this important signal of the international community’s solidarity with the people in Syria and with Syria’s neighbours who are hosting huge numbers of refugees, and feeling the strain of their generosity,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said. “Having a clarified position on funding levels so early in the year gives us confidence that we will be able to sustain a very high level of programming throughout the year. We hope to reach 11.7 million Syrians inside the country with food assistance and millions more with health and water services. To know that there will be funding for that, at this stage of the year, is very important”.

The international community also confirmed US$2.37 billion in funding for humanitarian, resilience and development activities for the Syria crisis response in 2020 and beyond. Pledges also included support to Palestine refugees in Syria.

Without continued funding, humanitarian activities would be interrupted, cutting deliveries of life-saving food, water, health, shelter and protection. “Eight people in ten in Syria now live below the poverty line", Mr. Lowcock said yesterday. "Monthly food costs are six times higher than before the war. Access to adequate health care – including maternal and reproductive health services, nutrition support and treatment for non-communicable diseases – is hopelessly inadequate in relation to basic needs. Some 6.2 million people inside Syria are still displaced from their homes, and 4.7 million still need help with shelter. Two million children inside Syria are out of school.”


Credit: UNICEF

The numbers of this crisis are staggering:

  • 11.7 million people in need of some form of humanitarian aid and protection
  • 6.2 million people are internally displaced
  • More than 2 million boys and girls are out of school
  • 83 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line

The situation is also driving the largest refugee crisis in the world. There are over 5.6 million Syrian refugees and up to 3.9 million impacted members of host communities in the neighbouring countries.

Despite generous funding by donors in 2018, only 65 percent of the $3.4 billion required for the inside-Syria plan last year was received. The regional refugee and resilience plan requesting $5.6 billion for 2018 was 62 percent funded.

Syria Fund helps fill critical funding gaps


At the beginning of 2018, NGO Lamset Shifa provided free-of-charge surgeries to IDPs and host communities coming to Damascus from all governorates, thanks to SHF funds. Credit: OCHA/G.Seifo

The Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF) – and OCHA-managed country-based pooled fund – allows donor to pool their contributions into a single fund in support of the highest priority components of the Syria HRP. This makes it one of the most effective ways for donors to support urgent humanitarian action in Syria.

In 2018, thanks to generous contributions from 14 donors [1], the Fund allocated US$37 million to 24 partners – including national nongovernmental organization – for 53 projects targeting 2.6 million people (cumulative), with healthcare, food aid, clean water, shelter and other critical life-saving assistance.

So far this year, the SHF has received US$2.2 million from Sweden and US$1 million has been pledged by Qatar. While the SHF constitutes a small portion of all humanitarian funding for the response in Syria, its strategic value and focus on the most urgent life-saving needs means it is vital to a coordinated and agile response.

[1] Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Jersey, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.