As the Syria crisis enters its tenth year, the scale, severity and complexity of humanitarian needs remain extensive. This is the result of continued hostilities in localized areas, new and protracted displacement, spontaneous returns and the sustained erosion of communities’ resilience during more than nine years of crisis. Syria is still one of the biggest and most complex crises globally, and it is far from over.
Across Syria, an estimated 11.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Since 1 December 2019, escalating hostilities north-west Syria have displaced more than 950,000 people. That part of Syria had seen intense hostilities in April-August 2019 that had already left 2.7 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance. The impact of present and past hostilities on civilians remains the principal driver of humanitarian needs in Syria.
The Syrian crisis created more than five and a half million refugees and displaced a further 6 million Syrians inside their own country.
In the north-east, increased conflict since October 2019 has also resulted widespread displacement.
The destruction of civilian infrastructure, depleted savings and limited economic opportunities have forced many to resort to harmful coping strategies. The result is extreme vulnerability. Those particularly at risk are children, pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities, the elderly and other groups or individuals with specific needs or diminished coping mechanisms.
Eight in 10 people in Syria live below poverty line. Many people’s coping mechanisms are depleted, and families face hard choices to put food on the table, a roof over their heads, keeping their children warm or sending them to school.
A massive humanitarian operation
Syrians themselves, through family and community support structures, humanitarian non-governmental organizations, and state institutions continue to be the main responders to the crisis.
Complementing their efforts, humanitarian organizations have mounted one of the largest responses in the world. As the crisis continues, people’s resourcefulness and national efforts alone remain insufficient to address needs which can only be mitigated through humanitarian assistance. Investments in more dignified and sustainable solutions to reduce dependency and increase resilience are key in the response – but are hampered due to insufficient resources.
Through various flexible modalities, in 2019, the humanitarian response made a difference to the lives of millions of people each month:
- 4.5 M received food assistance
- 1.9 M people received agricultural assistance
- 7.6 M people received direct water, sanitation/hygiene kits and assistance
- 4.7 M children and teachers benefited from quality education programmes
- 748,439 girls and boys accessed protection services
In 2020, the landscape in Syria remains complex and dynamic. Hostilities and insecurity are expected to continue, most notably in the north-west, which will generate additional civilian displacement.
Bombing and shelling have forced hundreds of thousands more people to move in the attempt to find safety in north-west Syria. People have been forced to move north out of Idleb into areas in Afrin, Azaz and Al Bab.
Despite the challenges in January of this year, food assistance for around 1.4 million people was delivered via the cross-border mechanism alone, as were health supplies for almost half a million people, and non-food items for more than 230,000 people. That is more than in any other month since the cross-border operation was authorized in 2014.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are asking for a total of $3.3 billion to respond to humanitarian needs in Syria this year.
To respond to the needs of Syrian refugees across the region and support their host communities, the UN is asking for $5.2 billion.
Key concerns in 2020 include ending of hostilities and safe conditions for people displaced and living in overcrowded IDP sites, particularly in north-west and north-east Syria; and the needs of host communities sharing resources with displaced families.