Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #7

Speeches Shim

August 4, 2015

USAID/FFP announces an additional $65 million in emergency food assistance for the Syria crisis

As of June 30, the conflict in Syria had killed more than 11,000 people in 2015, including more than 8,000 civilians

On July 9, the number of Syrian refugees surpassed four million people, increasing the scale of the world’s largest refugee crisis

Numbers At A Glance

12.2 million

People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria

7.6 million

IDPs in Syria

5 million

People Reached per Month by USG Assistance in Syria

4 million

Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries

1.8 million

Syrian Refugees in Turkey

1.2 million

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

629,100

Syrian Refugees in Jordan

251,500

Syrian Refugees in Iraq

Humanitarian Funding

To Syria Humanitarian Response
FY 2012 - FY 2015

USAID/OFDA $684,090,176
USAID/FFP $1,532,621,303
State/PRM $1,893,855,086
TOTAL $4,110,566,565

On July 31, USAID/FFP announced $65 million in new funding for the UN World Food Program (WFP) Syria response, which every month provides emergency food assistance to approximately 4 million people inside Syria and approximately 1.6 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. Of the $65 million, USAID/FFP allocated $47 million for WFP regional refugee operations, primarily in Jordan and Lebanon, and $18 million for WFP operations inside Syria. The funding helps avert cuts in WFP assistance, due to persistent funding shortfalls, that would otherwise have begun this month.

As of June 30, the conflict in Syria had killed nearly 11,100 people in 2015, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Attacks by the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) and pro-SARG forces account for the majority of deaths, including nearly 7,000 civilians. In addition, attacks by armed groups have resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians; of these, an estimated 945 deaths resulted from attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). At least half of the 230,000 deaths in Syria recorded since the conflict began in 2011 are civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports. In July, the SARG conducted nearly 6,700 airstrikes, including more than 3,600 barrel bomb attacks, killing approximately 800 civilians and injuring at least 3,000, according to SOHR.

The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to neighboring countries exceeded four million on July 9, confirming the crisis as the world’s largest refugee crisis under the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mandate in nearly a quarter of a century. The latest increase in Turkey’s refugee registration numbers—from 1.77 million in mid-June to 1.8 million in early July—propelled the regional total to more than four million. Turkey is hosting nearly 45 percent of the Syrian refugees in the region.

From July 2014 to June 2015, the UN reports registering a seven-fold increase in the number of beneficiaries reached through UN and International Organization for Migration cross-border deliveries from Jordan and Turkey after the passage of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 2165 and 2191 in July 2014 and December 2014, respectively. The UNSCRs authorize UN cross-border and cross-line delivery of humanitarian aid to conflict-affected populations in Syria without SARG permission.

Throughout July, the SARG continued to conduct airstrikes, including with barrel bombs, across Dar’a Governorate and on July 23 clashes between opposition groups and SARG forces intensified in and around the city of Dar’a following a brief lull, according to humanitarian organizations. According to humanitarian agencies, however, the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the city of Dar’a had stabilized as of July 22, after the flight of people following the initiation of the battle. With USAID support, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing safe drinking water for an estimated 42,500 people and rehabilitating wells to reach nearly 300,000 people in the governorate. Access to safe drinking water remains limited for approximately 170,000 people in the governorate, however, due to damaged infrastructure, according to the UN.

A recent wave of conflict surrounding Idlib Governorate’s besieged villages of Al Fu’ah and Kafrayya has displaced up to 80,000 people, according to reports from the UN. Prior reports indicated that clashes had displaced an estimated 2,500 people during the week of July 20. The current wave of displacement includes 30,000 IDPs from Bennsh sub-district and 50,000 IDPs from Maaret Tamsrin sub-district, many of whom have experienced multiple displacements. The majority of IDPs have fled to surrounding areas in Idlib Governorate and are living with host community members or in rented accommodations, according to the UN. Immediately following the displacement, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed some relief items, but noted the need for additional relief items, canned and dry food, children’s clothing, and hygiene kits. As of late July, USAID partners with humanitarian assistance operations in Idlib had begun distributions of life-saving assistance to displaced populations. Two clinics are providing emergency medical care and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are awaiting a reprieve in the conflict before commencing response activities.

In late June, clashes among ISIL, SARG, and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in Al Hasakah Governorate’s city of Al Hasakah displaced at least 120,000 people, according to the UN. Relief agencies distributed food rations—provided by WFP, with support from USAID/FFP—to an estimated 15,000 people situated in the city’s safer neighborhoods. Additionally, essential medicines to treat 80,000 people for up to three months were pre-positioned in health facilities across Al Hasakah Governorate, according to the Health Cluster, the coordinating body for humanitarian health activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders. As of late July, at least 25,000 people— approximately 5,000 households—had returned to their homes in affected neighborhoods in Al Hasakah city, including in the East Nashwa and Gweiran neighborhoods, as SARG and YPG forces established control.

Despite a change in the UN designation of Yarmouk neighborhood in Damascus from besieged to hard-to-reach in May, the UN remains concerned for civilians who remain in Yarmouk. While thousands of residents were able to flee to surrounding neighborhoods of Babila, Beit Sham, and Yalda this spring, these adjacent areas received limited humanitarian assistance in May and early June, and no assistance has reached these populations since the SARG withdrew permission on June 9. There has been no humanitarian access inside Yarmouk since March 28. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continues to negotiate with the SARG to resume deliveries.

Between December 2014 and June 2015, WFP increased cross-border deliveries from 20,000 food parcels per month to 103,000 food parcels per month. The food parcels include diverse food items that are intended to feed a household of five people for up to one month. WFP’s cross-border deliveries form one component of its broader operations inside Syria, which reach approximately 4 million people per month, primarily through distribution of household food parcels, and to which USAID/FFP is the largest donor.

A joint UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP crop and food security assessment report released in July indicated that Syria’s 2015 wheat production is expected to be significantly higher than in 2014, although production remains 40 percent below pre-conflict levels. Increased wheat production is unlikely to generally improve household food security, however, as prices for many critical goods increased significantly in early 2015 due to ongoing conflict dynamics and other developments, including SARG reduction of food subsidies. Insecurity, damaged irrigation systems, labor shortages, and high prices of agricultural inputs and fuel continue to adversely affect crop production in Syria, according to the report. In addition, the majority of WFP beneficiary households surveyed reported limited consumption of fresh, vitamin-rich foods; the poorest food security—including reduced dietary diversity and higher prices—was reported in Aleppo, Al Hasakah, Dayr az Zawr, and Hamah governorates.

The tenth round of the Syria Immunization Task Force polio vaccination campaign, which concluded in late June, reached an estimated 650,000 children younger than five years of age in western governorates—approximately half the number of children reached in previous campaigns. The eleventh round of polio vaccinations, scheduled to begin on September 5, aims to reach 1.3 million children countrywide.

In coordination with the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) Cluster, UNICEF has prepared for water shortages and waterborne disease outbreaks expected during the summer months in Syria. UNICEF has made rapid repairs to water systems to ensure safe drinking water for up to 1 million people countrywide. In addition, the UN agency has pre-positioned critical WASH supplies—including water purification tablets and health kits—to quickly respond to the needs of up to 500,000 people. As of mid-2015, UNICEF had improved WASH services for nearly 4.4 million people in Syria.

During the week of August 3, an NGO consortium will begin collecting data from each sub-district in three of Syria’s governorates for the Whole of Syria Assessment (WoSA), which will guide humanitarian assistance interventions. The WoSA is intended to serve as a regional needs assessment process that includes hubs in Amman, Damascus, and Gaziantep, Turkey, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) leading the process in each hub. The WoSA team will use existing sector assessments and governorate profiles to identify gaps to focus on during the upcoming assessment. The analysis will incorporate 2015 sector assessments to triangulate new data and provide a comprehensive Whole of Syria representation. OCHA expects to release the final WoSA report by the end of August, and December’s 2016 Syria Response Plan will be based on the results. WoSA represents the second coordinated nationwide assessment in Syria.

Regional

UNHCR reported approximately 180,000 new Syrian refugees across the region as of May 31, representing an average of nearly 36,000 new arrivals per month during the first five months of 2015. The regional monthly average is significantly lower than the average of 120,600 refugees registered each month in 2014. According to UNHCR, this trend indicates the increasing difficulty for Syrians to find safety, including by seeking asylum, within the region.

Jordan

New USAID/FFP funding of $21.3 million for WFP’s refugee operations in Jordan, announced July 31, allows the continued provision of emergency food assistance to approximately 440,000 Syrian refugees residing in urban host communities in Jordan, which would otherwise have ended on August 1 due to persistent funding shortfalls. WFP plans to continue providing electronic food vouchers valued at approximately $28 per person per month from August to November for approximately 98,000 refugees living in camps in Jordan; for nearly 211,000 extremely vulnerable refugees living in host communities, WFP will continue to provide electronic food vouchers valued at approximately $14 per person per month from August to November. For the approximately 207,000 slightly less vulnerable refugees living in host communities, WFP will provide vouchers of approximately $7 per person in August. Although the new funding does not return refugees to full voucher values, which WFP has been compelled to reduce in 2015 due to chronic funding shortfalls, it allows food assistance to continue at reduced rates. USAID/FFP remains the largest international donor to WFP’s operations for Syrian refugees in Jordan, providing more than $245 million to date.

On June 30, CARE/Jordan released its annual report on urban refugees in Jordan based primarily on interviews conducted with 1,300 Syrian refugee households from January to March 2015. CARE/Jordan noted that the situation for urban refugees continues to deteriorate, with more households reporting unmet food needs than in previous years, and one-third of families unable to access appropriate medical services. The proportion of families earning income from work increased from 69 percent in 2014 to 74 percent in 2015, and households’ average monthly income increased by nearly 14 percent between 2014 and 2015. However, most families faced an average monthly income–expenditure gap of 56 JD—approximately 79 USD—and the majority of Syrian refugees do not have work authorization. Ninety-eight percent of interviewed refugee families rent accommodations, and 79 percent of respondents indicated that the ability to pay rent is their greatest concern.

Lebanon

With a total population of approximately 4.7 million people and 1.2 million refugees, 1 out of 6 persons in Lebanon is a registered refugee. The preliminary results of the UN’s 2015 multi-sector Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon illustrate a continued deterioration of the food security situation across Lebanon compared to 2014. The assessment found that 70 percent of refugee households are below the poverty line of $3.84 per person per day—an increase of 20 percent since 2014—and that 67 percent of households are employing severe and crisis coping strategies.

New USAID/FFP funding of $20.2 million for WFP’s refugee operations in Lebanon, announced July 31, allows WFP to continue providing electronic food vouchers to Lebanon’s significant population of Syrian refugees into December; due to persistent funding shortfalls, severe cuts in assistance would otherwise have started to occur in coming weeks and months. In August, WFP will continue to provide more than 770,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon with vouchers of $13.5 per person per month; WFP continues to conduct exercises to target assistance to those most in need, reducing caseloads. Although the new funding does not return refugees in Lebanon to full voucher values—$13.5 per person per month is only half the intended voucher value, and refugees have already been receiving only $13.5 per person per month—it does allow food assistance to continue at reduced rates. USAID/FFP remains the largest international donor to WFP’s operations for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, providing more than $311 million to date.

In June, UNICEF and a local NGO launched safe spaces for women and girls in eight pilot Social Development Centers (SDCs) to provide gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response services for women and girls at risk. These services include psychosocial support group activities, awareness raising, and case management and specialized services, such as legal counselling. UNICEF is also supporting the provision of mobile services to women and girls in remote areas. UNICEF also delivered a one-day workshop in June for the 57 SDCs directors and NGO partners in order to further elaborate two of the pillars of the Ministry of Social Affairs National Plan, psychosocial support and GBV core concepts. The workshop aimed to ensure standardization of psychosocial services and GBV prevention and response services amongst all service providers operating in the 57 Social Development Centers across Lebanon.

Turkey

The new USAID/FFP funding of $4.8 million for WFP assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey, announced July 31, will cover more than half of WFP’s critical funding shortfall in Turkey and allow WFP to provide electronic food vouchers valued at $23 per person per month through November, compared with $30 vouchers at the end of 2014. The amount does not include assistance provided by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) in refugee camps. While immediate, acute funding shortfalls are being met, chronic shortfalls for WFP operations in Turkey continue, as they do throughout the region. USAID/FFP remains the largest international donor to WFP’s operations for Syrian refugees in Turkey, providing more than $75 million to date.

Having identified an increasing number of refugees sheltering in host communities or public buildings as vulnerable to food insecurity, WFP had planned to reallocate some assistance earmarked for refugees living in camps in Turkey to support additional activities for refugees outside of camps during 2015. However, WFP has suspended plans to reallocate assistance due to critical funding shortages affecting WFP’s regional operation for Syrian refugees. At current funding levels, WFP plans to assist an estimated 30,000 refugees outside of camps, while the majority of assistance will remain focused on refugees in camps. WFP continues to seek additional donor contributions to fund emergency food assistance activities for Syrian refugees residing outside of camps.

Since the beginning of 2015, UNICEF support for school supplies has benefitted nearly 66,000 Syrian children in Turkey and continued support ensures that additional children will receive school supplies in time for the new school year. To provide a protective environment to children during the summer months, the Government of Turkey (GoT) Ministry of Education and UNICEF have collaborated to keep many schools serving Syrian children open for summer school. UNICEF plans to deliver 370 recreation kits to more than 200 schools serving approximately 33,000 children and adolescents. In addition, UNICEF and GoT partners, including AFAD and the Ministry of National Education, are collaborating on school construction by identifying necessary land and financial resources to enable rapid construction. The USG is one of UNICEF’s primary donors in Turkey.

The GoT had admitted a total of nearly 25,000 refugees through the Akcakale–Tel Abyad border point as of June 30, according to UNHCR. UNHCR provided 33,000 blankets and 8,000 mattresses to the GoT for distribution to the new arrivals. In addition, UNHCR provided an NGO partner operating in Turkey’s Sanliurfa town with relief commodities for 1,000 households, including 5,000 blankets, 5,000 foam mattresses 1,000 hygiene kits 2,000 jerry cans 1,000 kitchen sets, 20,000 sanitary napkins, and 3,000 sleeping mats. On June 30, UNHCR also provided AFAD with relief commodities for the Suruc refugee camp, including 1,200 electric cooking stoves, 5,000 foam mattresses, 2,200 jerry cans, 1000 kitchen sets, 15,000 sanitary napkins, and 5,000 sleeping mats. The USG is the largest supporter of UNHCR’s operations in Turkey.

Following the commencement of peaceful demonstrations against the SARG in March 2011, President Bashar alAsad pledged legislative reforms. However, reforms failed to materialize, and SARG forces loyal to President alAsad began responding to demonstrations with violence, leading armed opposition groups to retaliate.

At a November 2012 meeting in Doha, Qatar, Syrian opposition factions formed an umbrella organization—the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, also known as the Syrian Coalition (SC). The USG recognized the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people on December 11, 2012. On March 19, 2013, the SC established the Syrian Interim Government, which opposes the SARG and is based in decentralized locations throughout opposition-held areas of Syria.

The UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 2139 on February 22, 2014, pressing the SARG and other armed actors to allow unfettered humanitarian access for relief aid workers in Syria. The resolution identified priority areas for emergency relief aid, and the UN is releasing monthly reports tracking progress on implementing the resolution’s objectives and access gains, as well as persistent access impediments.

On July 14, 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 2165, authorizing UN cross-border and cross-line delivery of humanitarian aid to conflict-affected populations without SARG approval. The resolution permits the UN’s use of four border crossings from Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq—in addition to other crossings already in use by UN agencies—for delivery of humanitarian assistance into Syria. The resolution also establishes a monitoring mechanism under the authority of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and with the consent of the neighboring countries to ensure that deliveries across these border points contain only humanitarian items.

UNRWA has registered approximately 560,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, with more than 80 percent living in and around Damascus. Intense fighting in and around Palestinian camps and neighborhoods has significantly affected Palestinian refugees in Syria. UNRWA estimates that over 50 percent of Palestinian refugees are displaced within Syria, with a further 12 percent displaced to neighboring countries. Syria also hosts an estimated 39,500 Iraqi refugees, primarily in the greater Damascus area.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at www.usaid.gov/crisis/syria.

The USG encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

Last updated: May 23, 2019

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