The impact of almost nine years of crisis continues to negatively affect people in Syria. There are an estimated 11.1 million people in need across the country, of whom 4.7 million are in areas of acute need. Although this represents a small decrease compared to the level of need reflected in the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), the humanitarian consequences of the crisis continue to generate negative impacts at similar levels to previous years.
The Centrality of Protection
Increasingly complex and inter-linked protection needs continue to exist across Syria. Ongoing hostilities in parts of the country still expose civilian populations to violence and threats to their lives, particularly in the north-west. The protection of humanitarian workers, including health care professionals, as well as damage to civilian infrastructure leading to civilian casualties, remains a major concern.
The protracted nature of the crisis and the extended displacement of millions of people, has eroded safety nets and often generated harmful coping mechanisms such as early marriage, child labour, and other forms of exploitation. In this context, women, children, adolescent girls, older people, widows and female-headed households, as well as persons with disabilities, face distinct and serious protection risks, have specific needs and remain particularly vulnerable.
Civil documentation, housing, land and property (HLP) issues and freedom of movement remain major and countrywide concerns, deriving directly from the effects of hostilities, forced and protracted displacement, which remain the main drivers of the protection crisis in Syria. The threat of explosive hazards remains a major protection concern with more than 10 million people estimated to live in contaminated areas.
With only 33.8 per cent of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) funded as of 29 September 20191 , continued underfunding will likely interrupt critical humanitarian assistance efforts. The reallocation of resources to respond to critical emergency needs risks compromising sustained assistance and service provision, as well as gains made for vulnerable people living in areas where needs are also significant.
Additional financial commitments are critical for the humanitarian community to sustain and scale up operations and respond to both new and existing needs in a principled, responsible and cost-effective manner. In view of the fluid situation in some areas, humanitarian partners also require flexibility from donors to re-programme their response. At the same time, systematic reporting through the Financial Tracking System (FTS) is essential in informing a comprehensive analysis of funding gaps to help address critical, unmet needs.
Some 5.9 million people continue to live in protracted displacement inside Syria, while more than 5.6 million people have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.2 In 2018, some 1.6 million population movements were recorded.3 Many families have been displaced multiple times, further depleting their limited coping mechanisms and exacerbating vulnerability. 950,674 internal displacements were recorded in the first seven months of 2019; a significant majority from Idleb Governorate.
In areas where hostilities have subsided, people have started to spontaneously return. In the first seven months of the year, some 292,065 spontaneous IDP return movements were recorded and 52,387 refugees spontaneously returned to their areas of origin.5 Challenges remain in the safety and sustainability of returns and some may have been prompted by the difficult conditions in areas of displacement. Further support is required for people to start rebuilding their lives. People returning need housing, livelihoods opportunities and access to basic services, particularly education, health care, and water, sanitation and solid waste management.
Sustained Quality Access
Despite improvements in 2018, sustained humanitarian access to people in need in some parts of Syria remains a major challenge due to active hostilities, interference in humanitarian activities by armed actors, administrative regulations, presence of explosive remnants of war, as well as insecurity and criminality. Sustained advocacy and respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) continue to be required to improve the quality of humanitarian access to people in some parts of the country.
Humanitarian Response Efforts
During the first five months of 2019, humanitarian partners continued to respond at scale through multiple response modalities with an average of 6.2 million people reached every month across Syria, of which 85 per cent went to areas with the highest severity of need.
In recent months, a significant escalation of hostilities in the north-west has resulted in more than 630,000 displacements between 1 May and 27 August 2019, with a gravely deteriorating humanitarian situation.6 Cross-border humanitarian actors have significantly scaled up operations, while Damascus-based humanitarian organisations have pre-positioned stocks in anticipation of possible displacement to areas controlled by the Government of Syria.
In the north-east, a major influx of people from southern Deir-ez-Zor Governorate to Al Hol camp in Al-Hasakeh Governorate in January and February called for a rapid increase in assistance and infrastructure in the camp across all response modalities. In addition, humanitarian partners have provided assistance to people in the Rukban makeshift settlement along the Syrian-Jordanian border at origin, in transit and at destination. It is estimated that over 17,700 people left Rukban between 24 March and the end of July. Those that have left are hosted in collective shelters in Homs where departures occur on a daily basis or as soon people’s status has been settled.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.