Foreword from the UNHCR Representative
The crisis in Syria entered its sixth year in March and humanitarian needs are staggering, with 13.5 million people in need of life saving aid and nearly five million refugees fleeing across the borders, often making perilous journeys, some even losing their loved ones along the way. There are also 6.5 million internally displaced, with 5.9 million people living in hard-to-reach areas and besieged areas without regular access to humanitarian assistance. The impact of the conflict in Syria is complex and wide ranging, and amongst the many heartbreaking things, it has caused forced displacement, sudden destitution, crumbling infrastructures, the breakup of families and whole communities, as well as the collapse of the normal social structures in some areas.
The protection needs of the Syrian population are massive and agencies face huge challenges in terms of access and reach to meet their needs. UNHCR together with other UN agencies and partners advocate on the behalf of IDPs to ensure that they receive the protection that they are entitled to under international humanitarian law and that the public is well informed on the issues they face. As such, in 2016 UNHCR reached over 693,688 individuals with Protection and Community Services interventions, including capacity building of UNHCR partners and outreach volunteers, targeted material assistance, socio-economic activities, recreational activities, psychosocial support (PSS), legal aid, gender-based violence (GBV) referral, child protection services, community based initiatives, as well as awareness raising sessions on various issues, ranging from residency procedures to prevention of GBV and early marriages. In addition, in order to provide community services and legal aid and maximize the outreach across key governorates hosting the majority of IDPs, UNHCR signed project partnership agreements with 25 partners, including with our main partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), international and national NGOs, as well as local partners.
We have used, and will continue to use, every avenue available to provide protection to the most vulnerable people throughout Syria. One such example is UNHCR supporting the opening of 22 new community centres across eight governorates in the first six months of the year where our partners and service providers now pool their resources to serve IDPs under one roof and provide standardized services inside these centres. This brings the total number of operational community centres to 52 in ten governorates, with each serving approximately 1,000 beneficiaries per month with a variety of protection services. I have personally visited these centres and was delighted to see the great work being carried out there and look forward to seeing many more throughout the country.
Despite the very difficult, challenging and at times, volatile operating conditions, UNHCR, continues to also provide other types of humanitarian assistance to those in need throughout Syria. By the end of June 2016, UNHCR had dispatched 2,576,409 Core Relief Items (CRIs) through its regular programme, inter-agency cross line and cross border missions, as well as airlifts, to 1,728,127 needy individuals in 12 out of the 14 Governorates. We have also ensured access to healthcare for 322,527 individuals and provided shelter assistance to 32,452 beneficiaries. We have responded to the fresh internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them multiple times, due to the escalating conflict, fierce clashes and turmoil in many parts of Syria, such as Idlib, Rural Damascus, Homs, Hassakeh, Daraa and Aleppo, to name but a few. Throughout these displacements, UNHCR and its partners responded quickly, identifying those most in need and prioritizing them for the distribution of CRIs, such as shelter material, blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, hygiene sets, jerry cans and solar lanterns. We have also continued to deliver assistance in areas that are besieged and very hard to reach and I must commend the determination of UNHCR and other humanitarian staff to deliver assistance to the most in need.