After 11 years of war, the Syria crisis is characterised by unparalleled suffering and humanitarian needs. Some 6.9 million Syrians are internally displaced, and another 5.6 million are refugees abroad. Moreover, hostilities continue in various parts of the country.
Food prices are on the rise while food availability is decreasing. The UN expects Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to further reduce wheat imports and increase prices, raising the number of food-insecure people to a record-high 13.9 million people (65% of the population) in 2022.
The EU and its Member States are the leading humanitarian donors for Syrians in need across the region.
What are the needs?
Some 14.6 million people inside Syria require assistance. Almost two-thirds of the population are expected to face food shortages in 2022.
The country is experiencing a deep economic crisis. Over 90% of the population lives below the poverty line. In addition, March 2022 saw the highest rate of inflation in the past 30 years.
In areas controlled by the government, over 3 million people are still internally displaced, and 8.2 million vulnerable people need life-saving aid. The security situation in the South remains volatile with a risk of escalation.
In north-west Syria, 4.1 million people, including 2.7 million internally displaced, require urgent humanitarian assistance. The UN’s Security Council resolution on cross-border aid from Turkey, which will expire in July 2022, offers them a vital lifeline.
Some 650,000 people are displaced in the north-east, of which 135,000 live in camps and depend on aid.
In 2021, Syria experienced its worst water crisis in 70 years. It negatively impacted people’s access to basic water needs, agricultural and electricity production, and the implementation of COVID-19 prevention measures. The pandemic further worsened living circumstances for vulnerable families.
Violations of international humanitarian law and lack of protection continue to be reported. Humanitarian aid is critical, but restrictions and bureaucratic impediments hamper the work of organisations.
How are we helping?
The EU and its Member States are the leading donors of international aid to those affected by the conflict in Syria. Since the crisis started in 2011, the EU has mobilised more than €27.4 billion to support the most vulnerable Syrians inside the country and across the region.
From 2017 to 2022, the EU has organised Brussels conferences to support the future of Syria and the region. These have been the main pledging events for the Syria crisis and are preceded by civil society consultations.
So far this year, the European Commission has mobilised €135 million in humanitarian aid to provide vital assistance to millions of people inside Syria.
In light of numerous attacks on civilians, hospitals and other civilian infrastructures over the past decade, the EU has continuously urged all parties in the conflict to allow unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to people in need. It has also repeatedly called for the respect of international humanitarian law.
Inside Syria, EU humanitarian assistance is channelled through our humanitarian partners. They are providing Syrians with (i) health care; (ii) food assistance including cash transfers; (iii) shelter; (iv) water, sanitation and hygiene services; (v) psychosocial support; (vi) essential household items; (vii) education; and (viii) protection including actions to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and support to survivors.
The EU’s humanitarian interventions focus primarily on addressing life-threatening emergencies. The actions also try to promote sustainable life-saving assistance (early recovery) by improving access to basic services for those in desperate need.
Partners provide emergency aid tailored to the needs of vulnerable people and try to protect them from harm. They attempt to reach Syrians across the country, in underserved or newly accessible regions and in areas where people are at risk of being repeatedly displaced. As many are caught in a cycle of perpetual displacement, the aim is to avoid their situation further deteriorating.
With needs greater than ever, the EU also supports the UN’s humanitarian air services. Their domestic flights facilitate the delivery of aid and the transport of humanitarian staff to areas with limited access where aid is needed.
Humanitarian organisations operate in very challenging circumstances, obstructed by insecurity and continued access constraints. They strictly adhere to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Facts & figures
14.6 million people in need in 2022.
More than 6.9 million internally displaced.
Over 5.6 million registered refugees, including:
- 3.7 million in Turkey
- 839,000 in Lebanon
- 673,000 in Jordan
- 256,000 in Iraq
- 138,000 in Egypt
(UNHCR March 2022)
Total assistance by the EU and its Member States to the Syria crisis:
more than €27.4 billion since 2011
EU humanitarian funding inside Syria:
€135 million in 2022