In August 2019, the United States and the Government of Turkey (GoT) agreed on establishing a security mechanism area or so-called ‘safe zone’ in northeast Syria (NES) and began discussions surrounding the specifics of the zone and its administration.h In anticipation of the agreement, dozens of households (approximately 350 individuals) reportedly displaced from the border town of Tell Abiad to Ar-Raqqa City and Ain Issa.i Beyond displacement, the overarching humanitarian context in NES did not change significantly in August. Health care continued to be reported as the top priority need, followed by Education and Livelihoods. Additionally, prices increased across the region, with REACH’s August Market Monitoring Exercise for Northeast Syria reporting that the price of the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) increased by 8% from 117 to 121 USD, or 70,194 to 74,127 SYP. At the time of data collection, the SYP/USD exchange rate in August was also the highest ever reported by the Market Monitoring Exercise (see dataset), namely at 614 SYP/1 USD.
Access to health care remained a major concern across NES Across NES, access to health care remained restricted in August in the assessed communities, with KIs in 565 (70%) of 806 communities reporting an absence of functioning medical facilities.
Additional barriers to accessing health care included cost of health services, reported in 60% of assessed communities, and transportation cost, reported in 53% of communities. Provision of medicines and chronic disease care were reported as the top two health care service needs, with KIs in 541 (67%) and 513 (64%) of the 806 assessed communities respectively reporting these in August. Antenatal care was the third most needed type of health care services, reported by KIs in 395 (49%) of the 806 assessed communities across NES. Chronic disease care services were in particularly high need in eastern Aleppo governorate, with KIs in 160 (81%) of 197 assessed communities reporting it as a top health care service need.
Opportunities to access education more limited in Deir-ez-Zor governorate In Deir-ez-Zor governorate, KIs in 62 (60%) of 103 assessed communities reported sending children to work or beg as a common strategy to cope with a lack of income in August. This was reported significantly more often in Deir-ez-Zor governorate than in other governorates. This is likely to negatively impact school attendance in the long run, especially as a lack of livelihoods opportunities remained prevalent in assessed communities. Although primary schools are mostly functional in 100 communities (97%) out of 103 assessed – secondary schools were only functional in 12 communities (12%) in Deir-ez-Zor governorate, and high schools were reportedly not functional in any of the assessed communities. Moreover, KIs in 87% of assessed communities reported that children were not attending school in nearby villages if learning facilities were not available in their own community. KIs cited most commonly early marriage as a reason for children not attending school in 58 (56%) assessed communities, followed by a lack of school supplies (reported in 47% of assessed communities) and child labour (reported in 38% of assessed communities) across Deir-ez-Zor governorate. The long-term impact on children’s education and protection is likely to be significant if the livelihoods situation in Deir-ez