Syria Crisis: Northeast Syria Situation Report No. 21 (1 - 31 January 2018)

Situation Report
Originally published



  • An estimated 61,000 individuals reportedly returned to Ar-Raqqa city since the end of hostilities in October 2017, however the number of returnees remains difficult to verify.

  • Explosive hazards contamination continues to hamper humanitarian access and poses a serious threat to the returning population. Whilst the scale and scope of the contamination is still not fully known given the absence of a systematic survey, on average there are up to 50 incidents per week reported in Ar-Raqqa city, which have resulted in deaths and injuries.

  • In early February, following one month of restrictions for humanitarian actors to operate in Hassakeh, an initial two-month agreement was brokered with the local administration and the Governor of Hassakeh, whereby some national NGOs will be allowed to resume humanitarian response efforts.

569 blast wounded victims treated due to explosive hazards in Ar-Raqqa city between 20 October 2017 and 26 January 2018.

61,000 Returnees to Ar-Raqqa city since October 2017.

577,800 people displaced from and within Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor governorates in 2017 (Source:
CCCM Cluster).

Situation Overview

Administrative challenges to humanitarian response activities persisted in northeast Syria. In late December, national NGOs working in northeast Syria received a letter dated 20 December from the local administration, informing the NNGOs of the administrative requirement to register with the administration to continue their operations. After none of the NNGOs complied with the requirement, the local administration suspended all 25 NNGOs previously active in the area on 5 January 2018. In line with the official Syrian Government position, the Governor of Hassakeh instructed the NNGOs not to register and further instructed the High Relief Committee to stop issuing facilitation letters for the distribution of supplies and the implementation of projects in the area until the suspension was reversed. This marks the fourth time that NNGO activities have been suspended in northeast Syria due to bureaucratic obstacles.

The suspension of activities affected a total of 25 NNGOs in northeast Syria, eleven of which are currently partnering with the UN. The effects of the NNGO suspensions were severe with an estimated 60 to 70 percent of operations on hold, impacting up to 720,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. The suspensions have particularly affected the delivery of health services provided by UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA. The suspension delayed distributions of food and emergency relief commodities in Al Hol, Ain Issa, and Mabrouka IDP sites. All clinics in the Areesha and Mabrouka IDP camps had to be closed, depriving the vulnerable IDP community of life-saving health services. During the reporting period, only 54,000 out of the more than 300,000 targeted people in need received emergency food assistance.

In early February, following one month of restrictions for humanitarian actors to operate in Hassakeh, an initial twomonth agreement was brokered with the local administration and the Governor of Hassakeh by the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, whereby the majority of national NGO operations will be allowed to resume work during a two month grace period. However, the impact of the restrictions was significant while it lasted.

Any protracted interruption of humanitarian assistance and services in the IDP sites may create push factors for IDPs to return to areas of Ar-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor governorates where their safety can be at risk.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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