SITUATION AT A GLANCE
Estimated Population in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
UN – February 2021
Estimated Food-Insecure Population in Syria
UN – December 2020
Estimated Number of IDPs in Syria
UN – February 2021
Estimated People USAID/BHA Reaches per Month in Syria
UN – October 2020
Estimated People State/PRM Reaches per Month in Syria
UN – November 2020
An estimated 12.4 million people are experiencing food insecurity in Syria, representing the highest level ever recorded in the country.
Approximately 13.4 million Syrians will require humanitarian assistance in 2021, an increase of 2.3 million people from 2020, the UN reports.
Relief actors continue to monitor attacks on humanitarian workers and health care, recording 28 attacks on health facilities, personnel, and transports in 2020.
USAID/BHA and State/PRM partners provide lifesaving food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, WASH, and winterization assistance to IDPs and vulnerable host community members.
Food-Insecure Population Reaches Highest Level Recorded to Date in Syria
Nearly 60 percent of Syria’s total population—approximately 12.4 million people—were food-insecure as of late 2020, representing an increase of 4.5 million people compared to 2019, according to USAID/BHA partner the UN World Food Program (WFP). Of the total, at least 1.3 million people were classified as severely food-insecure—an increase of more than 120 percent compared to 2019— indicating that they are unable to survive without food assistance, WFP reports. An additional 1.8 million people are at risk of lapsing into severe food insecurity, WFP warns, as food security conditions continue to deteriorate countrywide. The late 2020 figure represents the highest number of foodinsecure people ever recorded in Syria and a nearly 60 percent increase from the previous year, likely influenced by the continued collapse of Syria’s economy, coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related restrictions, protracted conflict, and prolonged internal displacement, according to WFP. The UN agency reports that the prices of basic food items increased by nearly 240 percent from 2019 to 2020, further diminishing purchasing power of daily food staples and contributing to food insecurity. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of the Syrian population reported the loss of one or more sources of income due to the economic downturn or COVID-19, WFP reports.
Two-Thirds of Syria’s Total Population to Require Humanitarian Aid in 2021
As of January 2021, approximately 13.4 million Syrians—or two-thirds of the country’s estimated population of nearly 21 million—require humanitarian assistance, according to the UN’s recently released 2021 Syria Needs and Response Summary. Based on several assessments conducted by relief organizations in late 2020, the report classified 30 percent of Syria’s population as particularly vulnerable, identifying 6 million people countrywide facing acute needs during the year. The number of people in need reflects an increase of 2.3 million people, compared to approximately 11.1 million people identified as in need in 2020. The increase is a result of increased food insecurity, reduced livelihood opportunities and purchasing power, limited access to basic commodities and services, and inadequate shelter conditions, all of which are compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The value of the Syrian pound decreased by nearly 80 percent on the informal market during 2020, and approximately 2 million Syrians are estimated to now be living in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day. The UN notes that the severe economic deterioration in Syria and its adverse impact at the household level has increased needs among previously less affected populations and further deteriorated the humanitarian conditions of already vulnerable communities. As a result, more than 80 percent of Syrians reported a significant decrease in their ability to meet basic needs since August 2019. In addition, approximately 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in camps or informal settlements countrywide as of January 2021, indicating a 20 percent increase since January 2020.
Hostilities Continue to Impact Humanitarian Workers, Health Facilities
Hostilities and direct attacks continue to cause civilian deaths—including of humanitarian staff—and damage to infrastructure throughout Syria, relief actors report. According to the UN, an average of one humanitarian worker is killed every 30 days in northwest Syria, making it one of the most dangerous places for humanitarian workers worldwide. The UN documented at least 14 deaths of humanitarian staff in northwest Syria from January 2020 to February 2021 as a result of airstrikes, shelling, and various types of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Most recently, on February 16, unidentified actors carried out an IED attack in the market area of Aleppo Governorate’s Al Bab city, resulting in the death of a humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) worker and injuring two other local NGO staff, according to the UN. The deceased was a community health worker supporting a UN-funded health project with a local NGO.
Attacks on health care staff and facilities remain of particular concern as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to stress the limited health care capacity in Syria. During 2020, the Turkey-based Health Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian health activities in northern Syria, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—recorded 28 attacks on health care facilities, personnel, and transports countrywide, resulting in the deaths of at least 13 people and injuring at least 42 others. Approximately 50 percent of attacks were located in northwest Syria’s Aleppo and Idlib governorates. As of January 2021, approximately 58 percent of hospitals and 53 percent of primary health care facilities were fully operational across Syria, the UN reports.
Gender-based Violence Increases Countrywide During COVID -19 Pandemic
Across Syria, women and girls have continued to experience increases in gender-based violence (GBV), including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; sexual exploitation; early and forced marriage; and the denial of economic resources and education, according to a January UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report. The UN agency highlighted that movement restrictions and reduced access to GBV services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the risk of GBV countrywide. Lockdown measures and lack of employment opportunities have led to a spike in incidents of intimate partner violence and domestic violence against women and adolescent girls, as well as a rise in households and individuals increasingly using negative coping mechanisms, including survival sex and early marriage. UNFPA notes that women and girls who are divorced, widowed, or displaced; adolescent girls; older women; and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities face the highest risk of experiencing GBV.
Relief actors report that GBV occurs almost everywhere, in both public and private spaces, and continues to be normalized by individuals and communities. Women and girls who experience GBV experience a range of physical, psychological, and social repercussions, including physical health consequences, fear, shame, and depression, and social stigmatization that may result in isolation, forced marriage, discrimination, marginalization, and suicide. Although GBV actors operate in 98 percent of Syria’s sub-districts, only 10 percent of communities have access to specialized GBV services such as case management and psychosocial support. In addition, GBV actors attributed a countrywide 11 percent decrease in the number of beneficiaries accessing services in 2020 to the onset of the COVID19 pandemic.