ACAPS Briefing Note: Syria - Displacement in ar Raqqa (9 June 2017)

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Crisis overview

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) campaign to retake areas of ar Raqqa governorate currently under IS control has been ongoing since November 2016. The operation is supported by airstrikes by the US-led coalition. On 6 June, the SDF entered ar Raqqa city from the eastern neighbourhood of al Mashlab. The campaign has generated considerable, mostly short-term displacement. As of end-May, over 205,000 had been displaced, mostly within ar Raqqa governorate. IDPs residing in organised camps and makeshift settlements have irregular access to food, drinking water, and sanitation facilities, as well as health services. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar needs among those still in IS-held ar Raqqa city.

Key findings

Anticipated scope and scale
In the coming months the additional caseload of people that will require humanitarian assistance in ar Raqqa and surrounding governorates as a result of the SDF campaign is projected to reach 440,000, including 340,000 people newly displaced and 100,000 people estimated in Raqqa city currently. The increasing number of people in need will likely put a strain on current capacities.

Moreover, widespread fighting and airstrikes are likely to damage or destroy vital civilian infrastructure, such as health centres, water towers and pumping stations, and power stations, thereby making needs more acute.

Key priorities

  • Health: More than 400,000 people in and around ar Raqqa governorate face increasingly limited access to health services.

  • Protection: Civilians are indiscriminately targeted, particularly by IEDs and UXOs, and are exposed to violations such as torture, sexual violence and restriction of movement.

  • WASH: Clean drinking water and sanitation is a major concern in IDP camps and areas of return, as well as ar Raqqa city.

There is a high risk for water-borne diseases to spread.

Humanitarian constraints
The main humanitarian access constraints are related to insecurity, restrictions imposed by conflict parties, and the destruction of transport infrastructure as a result of fighting. The presence of IEDs and UXOs make it dangerous for aid agencies to provide adequate response.