SITUATION AT A GLANCE
11.1 MILLION Estimated Population in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria UN – Apr. 2020
9.3 MILLION Estimated Food-Insecure Population in Syria UN – Apr. 2020
6.6 MILLION Estimated Number of IDPs in Syria UN – May 2020
5.6 MILLION Estimated Number of Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries UN – Aug. 2020
4.5 MILLION Estimated Number of People USAID Reaches per Month in Syria UN – Jun. 2020
• The UN Security Council passes Resolution 2533 on July 11, extending authorization for Bab al-Hawa, one of two previously authorized UN cross-border points between Turkey and northwest Syria for one year.
• Health actors record a fourfold increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases across Syria from July to August, including among vulnerable populations in northern Syria.
• USAID/BHA and State/PRM partners continue to provide life-saving food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, and WASH assistance in Syria and for Syrians in neighboring countries.
UNSC Partially Renews UN Cross-Border Authorization for Syria
On July 11, the UN Security Council (UNSC) partially renewed the cross-border authorization that enables UN agencies to deliver aid into Syria from neighboring countries. The resolution that passed,
UNSC Resolution 2533, allows UN agencies to continue operating cross-border through Turkey’s Bab al-Hawa (BaH) crossing for one year, while removing UN authorization for Turkey’s Bab al-Salama (BaS) crossing. Through BaH, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have reached nearly 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Idlib Governorate with humanitarian assistance, while UN agencies and NGOs have reached an estimated additional 1.3 million people, including at least 800,000 IDPs in northern Aleppo Governorate through BaS, the UN reports. Despite additional access challenges, the UN and NGOs are adapting activities to continue delivering assistance to vulnerable populations previously reached by the UN through BaS.
Vulnerable populations in opposition-held areas of northwest Syria do not receive cross-line assistance from Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG)-held areas and must rely exclusively on cross-border assistance from UN agencies, NGOs, and other humanitarian actors. As such, the lack of UN access to BaS creates logistical, operational, and security challenges for humanitarian actors, the UN reports, placing additional strain on organizations using the BaH crossing to reach populations previously accessed through BaS. However, NGOs, including USAID/BHA partners, do not require UNSC authorization to deliver assistance cross-border, and can largely continue operations via BaS.
Health Actors Monitor Significant Increase in COVID-19 Cases Across Syria
From early July to August, health actors recorded a fourfold increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases across Syria, rising from approximately 300 to more than 1,300 confirmed cases countrywide. As of August 11, the SARG Ministry of Health had confirmed 1,327 cases, including 53 resultant deaths, in SARG-held areas. Additionally, as of August 12, health actors had confirmed 47 COVID-19 cases in opposition-held areas of Aleppo and Idlib, following the northwest region’s first reported case on July 9, according to the Early Warning, Alert, and Response Network, a disease surveillance system comprising local health authorities, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), and other health stakeholders. As of August 12, the Syria-based Kurdish Self Administration had confirmed 144 cases in northeast Syria’s Aleppo, Dayr az Zawr, Al Hasakah, and Ar Raqqah governorates, including seven deaths. Several confirmed cases are medical staff in Al Hasakah’s Al Hol camp, which hosted approximately 64,700 people as of early August, more than 50 percent of whom are children younger than 12 years of age.
Health actors remain particularly concerned by the spread of COVID-19 in northern Syria due to the weak health care system and large IDP population residing in congested camps with poor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions and limited access to health care services. The increase in cases countrywide, particularly those with unknown or untraceable exposure, represents potential widespread community transmission in parts of Syria, the UN reports. In response to the recent rise in cases, health authorities, particularly in northern Syria, have revised COVID-19 mitigation measures and re-imposed movement restrictions in some areas.
USAID/BHA and State/PRM Partners Continue COVID-19 Response Efforts Humanitarian actors, including USAID/BHA and State/PRM partners, continue to support COVID-19 mitigation and response efforts in Syria, including through health and WASH activities. USAID/BHA partners are supporting health facilities with COVID-19 isolation and treatment services, enhancing
water supply and sanitation infrastructure at IDP sites, increasing water trucking to IDP sites to allow for additional handwashing, and providing essential medical equipment to health facilities. USAID/BHA partners are also providing risk awareness sessions, distributing cash assistance and essential hygiene supplies, establishing mobile medical units, and supporting infection prevention and control measures countrywide.
In addition, State/PRM partners are protecting IDPs and host community members in Syria from the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 by supporting community-led heath and protection initiatives; undertaking awareness campaigns on risk, prevention, and hygiene promotion; providing medical consultations and distributing information at community clinics; scaling up life-saving protection activities; and distributing relief, shelter, and WASH items.
Despite Sporadic Hostilities, Northwest Ceasefire Reportedly Holds
A ceasefire—negotiated by the Government of Turkey and the Government of the Russian Federation— went into effect in northwest Syria on March 6 and largely continued to hold as of early August, media report. Relief actors recorded an increase in hostilities along conflict frontlines from June to August, including artillery shelling and sporadic airstrikes. Frequent improvised explosive device (IED) attacks continue to endanger civilians, the UN reports, including approximately 15 IED attacks in northern Aleppo and Idlib from July 2 to 19, resulting in the deaths of at least 22 people and injuring nearly 130 others; additional IED, explosive remnants of war, and landmine incidents continued in early August.
Intermittent airstrikes also continue to affect several areas of Aleppo and Idlib.
From March to late June, an estimated 204,000 IDPs—or approximately 20 percent—of the 961,000 people displaced from December 2019 to March 2020 had returned to areas of origin in northwest Syria following the relative improvement in security conditions since the ceasefire began; approximately 756,000 people remain displaced, the UN reports. The majority of people returned to areas of eastern and southern Idlib, where more than 70 percent of shelters are destroyed, resulting in overcrowding of available living accommodations, according to the UN. As of late July, approximately 2.7 million people in northwest Syria were displaced, representing nearly 70 percent of the area’s current population of 4.1 million people.
Water Supply Disruptions Jeopardize Vulnerable Populations in Northeast
Populations in northeast Syria continue to face the risk of water shortages due to frequent service disruptions at the Alouk water station, located near Al Hasakah’s Ras al-Ain city. The water station supports an estimated 470,000 people in the governorate’s Al Hasakah and Tell Tamer cities and surrounding areas, including Al Hol camp, the UN reports. From February to July, the water supply at Alouk was interrupted at least 12 times, primarily due to interference from parties controlling the station, according to the UN. In late July, a 65 percent reduction in the rate of water flowing from the Euphrates River also negatively affected the electrical and water supply across Al Hasakah, where power outages now occur for up to 12 hours per day, the UN reports. The unreliable water supply in northeast Syria increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as additional water is needed for COVID19 mitigation measures such as more frequent cleaning and handwashing.
Al Hol camp is particularly susceptible to water supply disruptions, as Alouk station provides approximately 50 percent of the camp’s water. The interference at Alouk station and reduction in water flow from the Euphrates River has led to severe water shortages and resultant protests in Al Hol in recent weeks, according to the UN.