CHANGES IN CONTEXT
The humanitarian situation continued to worsen over the course of 2015, due to sustained and intensifying conflict, particularly in Aleppo, Idleb, Hama, Dar’a, Homs, Hassakeh, Raqqa, Rural Damascus, Lattakia and Deir Ez Zor governorates. This is impacting the civilian population, leading to unprecedented levels of humanitarian and protection needs. These needs are projected to grow as the conflict endures.
The length, intensity and geographical footprint of the conflict has not only resulted in great loss of life and displacement, but also widespread destruction of houses, basic services and infrastructure. The conflict is now undermining the resilience capacities of households and communities, exacerbating social and economic loss.
Since the beginning of the conflict five years ago, Syria has experienced a regression in its development by almost four decades, and negative trends across all 12 recorded Millennium Development Goal indicators. The Syrian economy has contracted by an estimated 50 per cent since the onset of the conflict, resulting in an estimated three out of four Syrians living in poverty, and 67 per cent living in extreme poverty.
Systematic violations of human rights and abuses, including targeting by all parties to the conflict of civilians and civilian objects, such as schools, hospitals, markets, places of worship, and other civilian infrastructures as well as the widespread use of indiscriminate weapons in highly populated areas continue in disregard of international law, including humanitarian and human rights laws. Over 250,000 people have been killed and over one million injured since the beginning of the conflict. At least 25,000 people are injured every month. It is estimated that more than 336 attacks on health facilities took place and that more than 697 health personnel have been killed.
Nonetheless, in contravention of the Security Council’s demands to lift the sieges, to end indiscriminate targeting of civilians and civilian objects and to provide rapid, safe, unhindered, unconditional and sustained access to all people in need, warring parties continued to block access and impose constraints. The situation is particularly devastating for those 4.6 million people in need in hard-to-reach locations. Out of these, UN agencies estimate that around 1.85 million are in areas controlled by ISIL, where grave violations of human rights are reported and humanitarian access continues to decline.
The use of sieges as a tactic of war has increased, with a doubling of the number under siege in one year. Over 486,700 people now live under siege, and millions of others live in areas subjected to stringent access constraints More than half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, often many times. On average, since 2011, 50 Syrian families have been displaced every hour of every day. In 2015 alone, over 1.6 million people were displaced inside the country, many for the second or third time, while increasing numbers of civilians are fleeing to neighboring countries and risking their lives to reach safety beyond the region.
Despite difficulties reaching Syria’s borders and accessing host countries, UNHCR reports that over 4.6 million Syrian refugees and people of concern have fed to neighbouring countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq) and the rest of North Africa. Asylum space for those seeking to find refuge outside of Syria continued to shrink, with neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, having closed their borders a number of times in 2015 to prospective Syrian refugees or limited the number of refugees permitted to enter. For instance, as of the end of December 2015, 13,249 Syrian refugees had become stranded at the security berm, approximately 3km inside Jordan’s north-eastern border with Syria (according to UNHCR registration data). Almost no people were being admitted to Jordan from Rukban, where the majority (approximately 11,800 people) were stranded, and admissions from Hadalat remained intermittent. Vulnerable groups included, inter alia, people with serious medical needs (637), unaccompanied and separated children (154), disabled persons (201), and pregnant women (266).
The crisis is compromising the stability of neighboring countries, as evidenced by declining human development and growth trends, increasing levels of vulnerabilities and rising social tensions.
The operating environment for humanitarian workers remains extremely insecure. Since the beginning of the conflict, at least 85 humanitarian workers are documented to have been killed. This includes 17 staff members of the United Nations, 51 staff members and volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, eight volunteers and staff members of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and 9 staff members of international non-governmental organizations. Of the 85, 19 have been killed since 1 January 2015. Syrian NGOs report that numerous other staff members have been killed but full data is not available.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.