Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #4

Speeches Shim

July 13, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry announces nearly $439 million in new U.S. Government (USG) humanitarian funding for Syria and neighboring countries.

United Nations (UN) convoys reach all 18 UN-designated besieged areas in Syria with emergency relief assistance.

Syrian Democratic Forces offensive to retake Menbij town in Aleppo Governorate from ISIL displaces an estimated 47,000 people.

On July 12, Secretary Kerry announced nearly $439 million in new humanitarian funding for Syria and neighboring countries, bringing total USG humanitarian assistance to date to nearly $5.6 billion. The announcement included nearly $255.6 million from State/PRM and $77.6 million from USAID/FFP to support humanitarian efforts in Syria and neighboring countries, as well as more than $105.3 million from USAID/OFDA for humanitarian assistance activities inside Syria.

Numbers At A Glance

13.5 million

People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria

6.5 million

IDPs in Syria

4 million

People Reached per Month by USG Assistance in Syria

4.8 million

Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries

2.7 million

Syrian Refugees in Turkey

1 million

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon


Syrian Refugees in Jordan


Syrian Refugees in Iraq

Humanitarian Funding

To Syria Humanitarian Response
FY 2012 - FY 2015

USAID/OFDA $976,897,915
USAID/FFP $1,860,224,887
State/PRM $2,731,442,290
TOTAL $5,568,565,092

Advocacy from the International Syria Support Group’s (ISSG) Humanitarian Assistance Task Force has helped the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) access a number of areas unreached by humanitarian agencies in years, including the besieged towns of Darayya and Douma in Rif Damascus Governorate.

As of July 5, UN interagency convoys and humanitarian airdrops had delivered emergency assistance, including emergency food rations and monthly food parcels, nutrition supplements, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) items, health and medical supplies, and other relief commodities, to more than 941,800 people in hard-to-reach, besieged, and other priority cross-line locations throughout Syria.

USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) conducted 65 high-altitude humanitarian airdrops to the besieged city of Dayr az Zawr between April 10 and July 7, delivering more than 1,157 metric tons (MT) of food assistance and nearly 37 MT of nutrition supplements for approximately 110,000 people. On July 8, WFP initiated airlifts from Damascus to the city of Qamishli in Al Hasakah Governorate, marking the first of 25 planned rotations to deliver emergency food commodities to populations in the city.

Northern Syria

Persistent armed conflict, compounded by Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) and Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF) aerial attacks, continues to negatively affect millions of Syrians, particularly in Aleppo Governorate. Despite the SARG announcement of a 72-hour ceasefire on July 6 for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, SARG forces advanced on the strategically located Mallah Farms in Aleppo on July 7. The SARG also increased airstrikes and shelling on Castello road—the primary supply route into opposition-held eastern Aleppo city—and the adjacent Aleppo towns of Anadan, Haritan, Kafr Hamra and Khan al-Assal, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). SARG forces had nearly encircled eastern Aleppo city as of July 8, effectively entrapping more than 300,000 civilians.

Military advances by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and increased aerial bombardment on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held town of Menbij in Aleppo had prompted the displacement of at least 47,000 civilians from the city and surrounding villages as of July 8, according to OCHA. An estimated 65,000 others remain in the town, which was nearly encircled by the SDF as of early July. The majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled toward northern towns in Menbij sub-district, Abu Qalqal sub-district to the south of Menbij, the Jarablous border crossing with Turkey, and to opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo. OCHA estimates that an additional 216,000 people could be at risk of displacement in Menbij District if SDF make additional territorial gains. Relief organizations have expressed concern regarding their ability to provide emergency humanitarian services to the affected population due to the limited reach of the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in ISIL-controlled areas in Menbij and other areas of Aleppo.

On May 27, ISIL initiated a rapid offensive in northern Aleppo’s Azaz corridor, capturing the strategic towns of Jibreen and Kafr Kalbein and causing significant displacement of civilian populations. Although armed opposition groups had recaptured Kafr Kalbein and Jibreen from ISIL forces as of June 8, the violence had prompted approximately 16,150 people to flee within and from Azaz sub-district and 6,000 people to flee to Aleppo’s Afrin District as of early June. The UN estimates that 306,000 people reside in the Azaz corridor, including at least 163,000 IDPs.

While the conflict in Azaz forced humanitarian organizations to limit staff movement and temporarily halt some emergency response activities in the area, WFP successfully distributed pre-positioned food rations for more than 30,000 IDPs, and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided health services in IDP transit areas.

On June 12, SARG–GoRF airstrikes hit a local market and the only remaining bakery in the city of Idlib, Idlib Governorate, killing at least 20 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Between May 30 and June 9, an escalation of SARG–GoRF airstrikes in and near the city of Idlib displaced more than 15,000 people to neighboring towns and villages, OCHA reported. The increase in airstrikes around the city of approximately 250,000 civilians resulted in the temporary suspension of education activities and the nationwide routine immunization campaign, as well as the closure of local markets in Idlib. Humanitarian organizations operating in the Idlib sub-districts of Bennish, Idlib, and Maar Tamsrin provided new arrivals with ready-to-eat food rations, safe drinking water, and other emergency relief items, according to OCHA.

As of mid-June, SARG military operations in the southern countryside of Ar Raqqa Governorate had displaced an estimated 9,000 people from several villages south of Ath-Thawrah town to Western Salhabyeih and Kderian towns in the eastern countryside of Ar Raqqa, according to the UN.

Southern and Western Syria

On July 3, a barrage of bombs hit the Khan Eshieh Palestinian refugee camp in Rif Damascus, destroying a childfriendly space that provided education, psychosocial support, recreation, and hygiene awareness activities for up to 1,000 children in the camp, according to the UN. The airstrikes also killed three people and wounded five others in the area, according to international media. USG partners UNICEF and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provide humanitarian assistance to the camp’s residents, including 9,000 Palestinian refugees, issued a press statement condemning the escalation of violence and called on the parties to the conflict to protect the lives of Palestinian refugees and all civilians. The ongoing insecurity has severely constrained humanitarian access to Khan Eshieh since 2013.

The UN reports that clashes between the ISIL-affiliated Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and opposition groups had displaced up to 12,000 people in western Dar’a Governorate between February and early June. Ash Shajara District in Yarmouk Valley is the most-affected district in Dar’a, where relief agencies continue to provide humanitarian assistance despite insecurity and related access challenges.

SARG forces have continued to bombard the besieged town of Darayya in Rif Damascus with aerial attacks and ground assaults since the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the town on June 9. From June 8 to 16, SARG forces dropped an estimated 300 barrel bombs on the town, according to local media.

On May 23, ISIL carried out a series of coordinated attacks in Latakia and Tartus governorates, killing between 80 and 150 people and wounding at least 100 others, according to international media reports. The SARG controls the majority of Latakia and Tartus, which host a large Alawite population, as well as Russian military bases. Nearly 378,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance and approximately 23,700 people live in collective centers in Latakia, according to the UN’s 2016 Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). In Tartus, the HNO identified more than 258,500 people in need of humanitarian assistance. Relief organizations maintain sufficient resources to respond to these caseloads in both governorates.

The total population living in both UN-designated hard-to-reach and besieged locations in Syria rose to nearly 5.5 million people as of June 23—an increase of approximately 900,000 people since January 2016. The UN added the neighborhood of Al Wa’er in the city of Homs, Homs Governorate, to the list of besieged areas on May 27, increasing the number of people living under siege from 408,200 people to an estimated 592,700 people. In late June, the UN revised the number of people living under siege from 592,700 people in 19 locations to 590,200 people in 18 locations due to a re-evaluation of population estimates in Rif Damascus’ Kafr Batna sub-district and the removal of the Rif Damascus town of Zabadin from the list of besieged areas. The UN also revised the total number of people living in hard-to-reach areas, including besieged locations, from fewer than 4.1 million people to nearly 4.9 million people due to the designation of Aleppo’s Kobane town and new locations in northern Ar Raqqa and northern and central Al Hasakah governorates as hard-to-reach, as well as re-evaluations of population estimates in other locations.

On June 9, the UN and SARC delivered emergency food aid to the besieged town of Darayya for the first time since the town came under SARG siege in 2012. The nine-truck interagency convoy delivered food and wheat flour for approximately 2,400 people, roughly half the estimated population, as well as other emergency relief supplies for 4,000 people, according to the UN.

On June 10, a UN interagency convoy delivered emergency food, wheat flour, and nutrition supplies to approximately 24,000 people in the besieged city of Douma in Rif Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta region for the first time since May 2014. The convoy also delivered health, hygiene, and other emergency relief items for approximately 40,000 people.

On June 23 and 27, the UN completed two convoys to the hard-to-reach town of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo, delivering nutrition, health, and hygiene items, as well as other humanitarian supplies, for approximately 22,500 people. In addition, a 30-truck interagency convoy delivered food and nutrition items for 50,000 people in Afrin District on June 16.

With recent interagency convoys to Darayya and Douma, at least one UN interagency convoy had reached all 18 besieged locations between February and June, with some locations reached multiple times. Yarmouk neighborhood in Damascus is the only besieged location that UN interagency convoys have not reached directly; however, UNRWA has assisted 19,000 people in Yarmouk indirectly through 30 convoys carrying emergency relief items to the nearby neighborhoods of Babilla, Beit Sahm, and Yalda since January 2016; however, the last such convoy occurred on May 25.

Persistent advocacy from the ISSG’s Humanitarian Assistance Task Force since February has enabled the UN, in collaboration with the SARC and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to conduct 94 humanitarian assistance convoys and 65 airdrops in Syria, delivering relief assistance to an estimated 941,825 people as of July 5. Accessed populations include 354,150 people in 18 besieged areas, 537,675 people in more than 14 hard-to-reach locations, and 50,000 people in priority cross-line areas. Although insufficient, the number of people reached in hard- to-reach and besieged locations to date in 2016 represents a significant increase as compared to 2015 when the UN delivered humanitarian aid to only 30,000 people in two besieged areas. The improvement can be attributed to increased cross-line deliveries by both UN agencies and NGOs, including USG partners.

The UN and greater international humanitarian community continue to request immediate access to provide life-saving assistance to approximately 62,000 people besieged in Idlib’s Al Fu’ah and Kafrayya towns and the Rif Damascus towns of Madaya and Al Zabadani to prevent a further deterioration of the food security situation in the four towns.

Across Syria, WFP provides food to more than 4 million people every month through road transport, cross-line convoys, high-altitude airdrops, and cross-border food deliveries. Between April 10 and July 7, WFP conducted 65 high-altitude humanitarian airdrops to the besieged city of Dayr az Zawr, delivering more than 1,157 MT of food assistance, including nearly 37 MT of nutrition supplements, for approximately 110,000 people. To date, the assistance delivered via airdrops has provided every registered household with a complete monthly food parcel, sufficient to support a family of five for one month.

Active fighting in eastern Aleppo and Ar Raqqa and the closure of border crossings between Al Hasakah Governorate and Iraq and Turkey between January and mid-June have disrupted internal supply routes to Al Hasakah, contributing to a deteriorated food security and humanitarian situation in the governorate. On July 8, WFP airlifted 40 MT of emergency food commodities, including bulgur, pulses, salt, sugar, and vegetable oil, to the town of Qamishli in Al Hasakah Governorate. The delivery also included Plumpy’doz, a specialized nutrition product used to treat and prevent child malnutrition. WFP is prioritizing more than 75,000 people to receive food assistance, primarily displaced families living in shelters and unfinished buildings, as well as female-headed households. The UN estimates that 275,000 people in Al Hasakah are in need of humanitarian assistance but have been cut off from food and other basic supplies for more than six months.

On June 1, a seven-truck SARC convoy delivered limited food and nutrition supplements for 2,500 people in Al Wa’er, where vulnerable populations are in urgent need of emergency relief assistance, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Needs and Population Monitoring initiative. Al Wa’er had not received large-scale humanitarian assistance from the UN since March 2016 due to SARG denials of UN requests to deliver aid. The population lacks access to outside markets, and a general absence of basic supplies and food commodities has led to a deteriorated food security situation. Local health facilities lack medical supplies, two area hospitals are operating at limited capacity with intermittent access to electricity, and IOM reported a number of cases of malnutrition among children, as well as a high frequency of respiratory infections. SARG forces have severely restricted civilian movement and humanitarian access to Al Wa’er since 2013.

As of June, the national average price of a standard food basket had increased by 9 percent as compared to April, according to a WFP mobile vulnerability analysis and mapping survey, primarily due to the start of Ramadan and intensified conflict throughout the country. In May, intensified clashes and airstrikes severely disrupted supply routes to Aleppo, Al Hasakah, Hamah, and Idlib governorates, resulting in higher prices and a limited availability of many staple foods. The price of standard food baskets in Aleppo, Al Hasakah, and Idlib had increased by 13.8 percent, 32.6 percent, and 36 percent, respectively. Standard food baskets in Dayr az Zawr Governorate continue to register the highest prices at 112,384 Syrian pounds, or approximately $239.

In the besieged Rif Damascus towns of Arbin, Darayya, Madaya, Saqba, and Al Zabadani, as well as Dayr az Zawr, poor households lack adequate access to safe drinking water, and many local bakeries remain non-operational, according to WFP. At the governorate level, households from Aleppo, Hamah, and Rif Damascus exhibited the highest incidence of inadequate food consumption in March. In addition, the survey results indicate that food consumption frequency and dietary diversity is worse among households displaced within the past year.

Through cross-border activities from Turkey, members of the Food Security and Livelihood (FSL) Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian food security and livelihood activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—reached more than 1 million people in northern Syria with emergency food assistance and 1 million people with bread and flour deliveries in May. Nearly 57,000 people in northern Syria also benefited from food vouchers, cash-for-work programs, and other livelihoods activities implemented by the FSL Cluster.

As of June 2016, Physicians for Human Rights had documented 365 attacks on nearly 260 health facilities in Syria, as well as the deaths of 738 medical workers since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Of these attacks, SARG forces were responsible for at least 289, resulting in an estimated 667 medical personnel killed.

Since May 1, the UN and its partners have received increasing reports of attacks on health care facilities, including the destruction of a hospital in Tartus on May 23, as well as attacks on three medical facilities in eastern Aleppo city between June 8 and 14; two of the health facilities in eastern Aleppo collectively provide nearly 5,000 consultations per month. In addition, SARG–GoRF airstrikes on a Médecins Sans Frontières-supported hospital killed 15 people and wounded 20 others on June 13.

Members of the Health Cluster provided more than 5,800 people in Syria with medical referrals and more than 46,400 people with outreach consultations in May, according to OCHA. In addition, Health Cluster members supported nearly 26,900 minor and major surgeries and provided medical training to more than 640 doctors, nurses, and midwives in northern Syria.

With the support of local committees, the Health Cluster initiated repair operations in May for health facilities damaged or rendered inoperable during April, according to OCHA. Relief agencies rehabilitated the first floor of Al Quds hospital, allowing for the resumption of emergency healthcare services for civilians in eastern Aleppo city. Two other damaged health facilities in Aleppo also resumed medical activities.

With support from UNICEF, an international NGO completed an underground wastewater network in Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp in mid-June. The completed project, which began in November 2015, provides all 80,000 camp residents with access to private toilets and septic tanks, reducing health hazards and improving WASH conditions in the camp. In addition, the NGO conducted hygiene promotion and community mobilization activities to raise hygiene awareness among community members.

The Bab Al-Nayrab water station in Aleppo, damaged by airstrikes on April 29, resumed water pumping operations in early May. As of May 22, the station was pumping water to an estimated 20,000 households in the western Aleppo city and some neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo city, according to the UN.

Approximately 3.7 million Syrian children have been born since the conflict began in 2011, including more than 151,000 children born as refugees, according to a UNICEF report. The report estimates that the conflict is affecting 8.4 million children—more than 80 percent of all Syrian children—either within the country or as refugees. In addition to severe protection issues, UNICEF cites education as a primary concern for conflict-affected children, noting that more than 2.8 million Syrian children are not attending school.

Up to 250,000 children residing in besieged areas have inadequate access to education, food, health services, or safe drinking water, according to a recent report from Save the Children. The report notes that conditions have worsened in recent months and that children are dying due to a lack of food and medicine—which, in some cases, is stored in warehouses directly outside the besieged area. According to the report, more than 20 percent of aerial bombardments in 2015 occurred in areas now categorized by the UN as besieged and more barrel bombs are dropped in besieged areas than other locations. Save the Children has urged an immediate end to siege tactics by parties to the conflict and called for sustained humanitarian access, free movement of civilians, and medical evacuations. The NGO also called for the de-linking of access negotiations from cessation of hostilities negotiations.

In January and February, WoS Protection Sector members reached nearly 261,000 people, including nearly 90,000 people via cross-border operations from Turkey, with prevention, mitigation, response, and capacity building programs—such as case management services, frontline responder training, and psychosocial support. Gender-based violence interventions have reached 38,600 people, already exceeding the figure targeted in the 2016 HRP. The WoS Protection Sector aims to provide protection support to 7.2 million people within Syria in 2016.


In mid-June, Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government authorities reopened the Fishkhabour border crossing between Iraq and Syria’s Al Hasakah Governorate to cross-border humanitarian and commercial traffic and to individuals in need of medical assistance seeking to enter Iraq, according to USG partners.


The number of Syrian refugees stranded on the Jordanian side of the Syria–Jordan border, in an area known as the berm, has tripling in recent months to more than 80,000 people, including an estimated 70,000 people at the Rukban border crossing point and at least 10,000 people at the Hadalat border crossing point, as of late June. The population at the berm includes large numbers of extremely vulnerable people—more than half are children.

Moreover, the security situation at the berm has deteriorated considerably. On June 21, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at a Jordanian military outpost near Rukban, resulting in the death of seven Jordanian military personnel. The attack prompted the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to declare the entire Jordan–Syria border a closed military zone and to close the border temporarily, hindering relief activities.


On June 27, suicide bombers attacked the predominantly Christian village of Al Qaa in Lebanon, near the Lebanon– Syria border, killing five people and wounding more than 12 others, according to international media reports. Al Qaa is also located near the Mashareeh Al-Qaa area, which hosts informal Syrian refugee settlements. Although anti-refugee rhetoric has escalated and local authorities have imposed curfews for refugees, USG sources report that relief agencies have not received any reports of violence against Syrian refugees.

On March 15, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) announced an additional €445 million—nearly $500 million—in humanitarian assistance for individuals affected by conflict in Syria. The funding will support life-saving projects, including emergency food assistance and health care services, implemented by response organizations in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. Since 2012, ECHO has contributed more than $2 billion toward response activities benefitting individuals affected by the conflict.

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 (UNSC) adopted UNSC Resolution (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 UNSC 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. In December 2015, the UNSC unanimously adopted UNSCR 2258, which renewed the mandate of UNSCR 2191 and will remain active until January 10, 2017.

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 approximately 60 percent of Palestinian refugees are displaced within Syria, with a further 110,000 Palestinian refugees are displaced to neighboring countries. Syria also hosts an estimated 24,000 Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers, primarily in the greater Damascus area, as well as more than 3,200 refugee persons of concern from other countries.

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

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: July 21, 2016

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