Background and overview
This report contains the findings of a Response Review commissioned by the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Secretariat to consider the response to date by DEC member agencies to the Syria Crisis. The Review was undertaken in August 2013 – around four and a half months after the DEC appeal – and involved visits to the two main refugee-hosting countries, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as interviews with those agencies working inside Syria. The main purpose of the Review was a learning one, with a focus on the response to the situation of Syrian refugees and displaced people living outside camps, scattered among host communities in a variety of living conditions.
Overall, the Review found that DEC agencies were performing essential roles in all three countries, and appeared in most cases to be achieving a high degree of programme quality and effectiveness. It found a good deal of innovative and effective work, high levels of collaboration and a strong intention to adapt programme approaches to the context and to learn from experience; particularly in work with urban displaced and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan. Inside Syria itself, many of the DEC agencies have had to pursue untested and relatively high-risk forms of engagement and partnership in order to provide urgent assistance to grossly under-served and vulnerable war-affected communities. Although hampered by security and bureaucratic factors, DEC members have made substantial efforts to reach those who most need assistance – and appear to taking reasonable steps to provide such assistance impartially and accountably.
Despite the largely positive conclusions of the Review about the work of DEC members, significant concerns were identified about the length of time taken to scale up programmes; related lack of preparedness and delivery capacity; limited programme coverage in Syria; and a lack of concerted policy analysis and advocacy, particularly on protection issues. Although the external constraints are very real – including insecurity, bureaucratic hurdles, limited funding and partner capacity – the Review concludes that more could have been done by DEC members to tackle some of these factors and lay the foundations for a timely, scaled-up response.