Health Sector Syria - Health Sector Bulletin - April 2022



HCT key messages for Brussels VI conference, 9-10 May (source: HCT Syria)

  • The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Today, 14.6 million people inside the country need humanitarian assistance, an increase of 1.2 million from 2021. Most of them are women and children, who despite incredible strength and resilience are facing a bleak future and increasingly dire living conditions. The people of Syria now more than ever need continued international solidarity and support.

  • The rapid rise in needs is driven by a deepening economic crisis, ongoing displacement, and climatic shocks, including one of the worst droughts in recent years, as well as the impact of a decade of conflict which damaged or destroyed much of the country’s public infrastructure and services. This is further exacerbated by chronic electricity and fuel shortages that undermine the functionality of essential services, livelihoods, and delivery of assistance. There are concerns that the war in Ukraine could drive further deterioration.

Side Event on Health and the Impact of the Socio-Economic Crisis in Syria

An important Side Event on Health and the Impact of the Socio-Economic Crisis in Syria to be convened by WHO in partnership with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme. The event will take place on 6 May, at 10 am Brussels time on the margins of the Brussels VI Conference on Syria.

This virtual side event will be hosted on Zoom. Please find registration details in the attachments. The general public will be able to watch the event livestreamed on:

Twitter (English): Facebook (Arabic): YouTube (French):

For the Q&A session of this side event, you are invited to submit your questions in advance to Kevin Cook, WHO Regional Communication Lead on this event at The Q&A session will be “live”, but with limited time to answer all questions, so providing yours in advance of the event is encouraged.

  • The impact on the Syrian people is devastating and families are increasingly pushed into destitution. More than 90 percent of Syrians now live in poverty and food insecurity has reached record levels, with 12 million people going hungry every day. Acute and chronic malnutrition levels are alarming and continue to increase. About 5.5 million children under five years of age, and pregnant and lactating women urgently need nutrition assistance.

  • The situation is compounded by a severe water crisis due to the worst drought in recent years, reduced flow in the Euphrates and significant shortages of fuel for power plants as well as the compromised capacity of the water infrastructure and facilities, many of which were destroyed or damaged during the crisis. About half of the total population continue to rely on alternative and often unsafe water sources to meet or complement their water needs.

  • The country’s health system continues to face concurrent emergencies and chronic challenges amidst capacity and resource gaps. This is further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, 12.2 million people need life-saving health services. These include those with poor physical and mental health as well as those with limited access to health services.

  • Due to major gaps in the education sector, nearly one in two children (about 2.5 million children out of about 5.52 million) are out of school. These children are at risk and fall prey to child labour, early and forced marriages, trafficking, and recruitment by armed actors. About 48 percent of schools are still non-functional due to various reasons, including inaccessibility and structural damage. Investments in the rehabilitation and restoration of education institutions remains a key priority.

  • Civilians are still exposed to recurring hostilities, resulting in casualties, forced displacements, and increased safety risks. Gender-based violence (GBV) and risks to the safety of children are assessed to have increased during the past year. Harassment, intimate partner and family violence, child and forced marriage and subsequent pregnancies, and sexual violence and exploitation are consistently reported, while new trends, such as various forms of technology-facilitated violence, have also been observed. Risks of exposure to explosive ordnance also remains very high, with one in two people estimated to be at risk. Today, 14.2 million Syrians need protection assistance. More than half of those (7.3 million) need GBV services. Protection response however continues to be undermined by severe funding shortfalls.

  • Syria continues to grapple with both an internal displacement and refugee crisis. The growing levels of vulnerability among the refugee population is worrying. Initiating and scaling up existing efforts to find durable solutions for displaced people remains a key priority.

  • Humanitarian actors are concerned about the volatile context in northwest and northeast Syria which continues to limit access to certain areas and people in severe need. Sustained access to all people that require assistance is essential. We commend the efforts that are being made by all actors to facilitate our access to people that need assistance and continue to appeal for support from all relevant actors including donors to secure and protect humanitarian space.

  • In North-East Syria, solutions are urgently required for foreign nationals residing in camps, especially women and children residing. Member States should repatriate their nationals and/or use their influence to support repatriations for those countries with the highest caseloads.

  • In 2021, humanitarian organizations assisted on average 7.3 million people per month. This however translates to just about half of the people in need of assistance. Millions of other people in need are therefore being left without the much-needed assistance as funding gaps continue to undermine response capacities across all sectors. In 2021, the humanitarian response plan (HRP) was only funded at 46 percent. Unless appropriate response interventions are scaled up and sustained, the needs are expected to continue rising through the next year.

  • A humanitarian response alone will however not address the structural drivers of humanitarian needs. To reach people in need with assistance at scale, the Syria Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is calling for the scaleup of more innovative and strategic early recovery response as stipulated in strategic objective three of the Syria 2022-2023 HRP.

  • In addition, participatory area-based resilience interventions that complement immediate life-saving humanitarian assistance, will gradually lessen the dependence of beneficiaries on all forms of external assistance. A resilience approach secures a greater return on investment in the long term by enhancing urban and rural livelihoods for vulnerable populations and improving sustained, equitable and safe access to critical basic services in areas with a high severity of needs.

  • In 2022, to sustain the humanitarian response and continue to reach vulnerable communities, the humanitarian community requires US$ 4.4 billion. We also encourage donors to consider funding for the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF), which provides timely, flexible, and principled support for both international and local partners.

  • We renew our calls for additional resources to boost Syria’s emergency aid operations, and count on your support to continue keeping Syria on the international radar as part of the efforts to ensure the gains we have made so far can hold. Timely, sustained, increased, flexible, and longer-term funding cycles from traditional and new donors will prevent the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation.