ACAPS Short note: Syria: Humanitarian needs in Afrin (03 March 2021)

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Humanitarian needs remain critical in Afrin district, Aleppo governorate, in northwest Syria (NWS) – almost four years after the Olive Branch operation in 2018, which saw the Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army (SNA) gain full control over the district. Insecurity resulting from conflict remains widespread, as does a lack of rule of law, and ongoing hostilities and economic deterioration in northern Syria continue to drive displacement into Afrin, with many people experiencing protracted displacement. The influx of IDPs is straining already limited basic infrastructure and services. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the situation by placing additional burdens on the healthcare system and impacting the already dire economic situation in northern Syria. This report analyses the most urgent humanitarian needs for the population of Afrin.

Out of a total population of around 442,000 in Afrin, at least 80% are in need of humanitarian assistance according to discussions with humanitarian organisations operating in the district (key informant interviews 26/01/2021, 02/02/2021). The main identified needs are livelihoods, food, and protection. The Kurdish population is one of the most affected groups in Afrin, as they face constant harassment by local factions of the SNA, putting them at risk of losing their livelihoods and access to food and shelter, and increasing their protection needs. Other groups identified as being most in need are children and young people, IDPs (especially in informal camps), and people with disabilities. It is difficult to estimate the number of those in need in the district because of the limited needs assessments conducted at the district and subdistrict levels.

About this report

Methodology: The needs analysis is based on a review of publicly available data and key informant interviews conducted between January–February 2021.

Limitations: Despite extensive information covering NWS where Afrin is situated, granular information about the different districts and subdistricts across the region remains scarce. Different actors operate in and control different areas of NWS, meaning that needs vary vastly across the region. Needs across subdistricts differ as the influx of IDPs is uneven. As a result, we try to not generalise across the region throughout the report. There are currently no available recent estimates of the number of people in need for the overall population nor for specific groups. Information on the needs of the Kurdish population remains very limited, because of sensitivities and biases.