Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #5

Speeches Shim

September 30, 2016

USG announces more than $364 million in new humanitarian funding for Syria and neighboring countries.

SARG and GoRF resume airstrikes on September 19 following dissolution of new CoH agreement.

UN officially designates eastern Aleppo city as a besieged location; humanitarian conditions deteriorate significantly.

Airstrikes on UN humanitarian convoy in Big Orem, Aleppo, kills multiple aid workers.

On September 27, the U.S. Government (USG) announced more than $364 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Syria response, bringing the total USG assistance to nearly $6 billion since 2011. The new funding will support the emergency relief activities of the UN and other humanitarian organizations, including the provision of emergency food, medicine, safe drinking water, and other relief supplies to conflict-affected people in Syria and neighboring countries.

Numbers At A Glance

13.5 million

People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria

6.1 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 $1,158,669,735
USAID/FFP $1,895,604,343
State/PRM $2,924,721,779
TOTAL $5,978,995,857

The USG and Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF) reached a new cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement on September 9 that required all parties to halt territorial advances; permit unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to all UN-designated besieged and hard-to-reach areas; and allow safe and unhindered access between western and eastern Aleppo city. On September 19, the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) unilaterally announced the end of its participation in the CoH, and the SARG and GoRF resumed airstrikes throughout the country, with markedly intensified attacks in eastern Aleppo city.

Airstrikes on September 19 targeted a UN interagency convoy in Aleppo Governorate’s town of Big Orem, resulting in at least 18 deaths, including the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Big Orem, destroying multiple trucks, and damaging a warehouse. The convoy planned to deliver humanitarian assistance to 78,000 people.

On September 29, the UN officially designated eastern Aleppo city as a besieged location, where humanitarian conditions have deteriorated for up to 275,000 people following the closure of Castello and Ramouseh roads—the primary supply routes into the oppositionheld areas—in mid-July and early September, respectively.

Despite a temporary reduction in violence in mid-September as a result of the CoH agreement, airstrikes and clashes persist throughout Syria, particularly in Aleppo, Dar’a, northern Hama, Idlib, and Latakia governorates, as well as in Rif Damascus Governorate’s Eastern Ghouta region. In September, SARG and GoRF airstrikes resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,000 civilians throughout Syria, or approximately 85 percent of all civilian deaths during the month, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. The organization also reported that GoRF airstrikes have targeted at least 59 medical facilities and killed nearly 3,300 civilians, including more than 900 children, in Syria since the GoRF began conducting airstrikes in Syria on September 30, 2015.

Northern Syria

Following the breakdown of the CoH agreement, SARG ground offensives and suspected SARG and GoRF airstrikes intensified in and around the city of Aleppo. On September 19, airstrikes targeted a UN interagency convoy in Aleppo Governorate’s town of Big Orem, resulting in at least 18 deaths, including the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Big Orem, destroying multiple trucks, and damaging a warehouse. The convoy planned to deliver multisector humanitarian assistance to 78,000 people. UN Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Stephen O’Brien stated that the deliberate targeting of humanitarian organizations’ assets, facilities, and personnel is a violation of international humanitarian law and tantamount to a war crime, and the UN plans to establish an internal UN Board of Inquiry to investigate the incident.

The escalation of violence and lack of commercial and humanitarian access or evacuation routes has exacerbated humanitarian needs among up to 275,000 conflict-affected people in eastern Aleppo. Between September 19 and 24 more than 150 airstrikes and barrel bombs targeted at least 30 different civilian locations in opposition-held eastern Aleppo city, destroying three USAID-supported Syrian Civil Defense centers and other critical public infrastructure. Between September 23 and 29, the aerial attacks killed approximately 340 people, including more than 260 children, and injured at least 850 others, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). Only six hospitals were functional and 29 doctors were available to support medical services in opposition-held areas as of September 30.

On August 22, SARG and Kurdish authorities agreed to halt fighting in Al Hasakah Governorate’s city of Al Hasakah, following several days of airstrikes and clashes between the SARG and Kurdish forces. The SARG withdrew forces from the city and facilitated the disarming of aligned groups in the area. The conflict in Al Hasakah displaced more than 66,200 people between August 18 and 23, according to the UN. SARG airstrikes and indirect artillery attacks in Al Hasakah resulted in multiple civilian casualties, although the exact number of casualties is unknown. UN agencies registered internally displaced persons (IDPs), distributed food and relief commodities, and provided psychosocial support to displaced households in the area.

Since Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces gained control of Aleppo Governorate’s city of Menbij from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in mid-August, the city has experienced an influx of returnees from rural areas, and the UN estimates that approximately 70,000 people were living in the city of Menbij as of September 26. Commercial and civilian movement in and out of Menbij and Menbij District has improved, with commercial trucks accessing Menbij through Aleppo’s Jarablus District. Although constraints on civilian movement have eased and humanitarian access has improved, support to rehabilitate essential services and clear the area of explosive remnants of war (ERW) remains an urgent need. Extensive ERW contamination in the city has resulted in significant numbers of casualties among the first returnees, a humanitarian actor reports.

On August 24, the Free Syrian Army, supported by Government of Turkey (GoT) forces, gained control of the city of Jarablus in northeastern Aleppo Governorate from ISIL. Prior to the offensive, up to 25,000 civilians fled the city and its outskirts; however, as of late August approximately 15,000 civilians had returned, according to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (CCCM)—the coordinating body for humanitarian CCCM activities comprising UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders. Local authorities report that priority needs in Jarablus include rebuilding the local bakery and obtaining new water pumps due to the destruction of water supply infrastructure by ISIL prior to their flight from the city. Humanitarian access to Jarablus remains limited in the near-term as the city is contaminated with ERW.

Clashes between SDF and ISIL forces in Ar Raqqah’s Jurneyyeh sub-district prompted the displacement of more than 8,000 people from approximately 10 communities between August 25 and 29, according to humanitarian actors. The displaced population included approximately 6,900 residents and more than 1,100 people previously displaced from ISIL-controlled towns who fled to multiple locations in southern Jurneyyeh and Al Thawarah sub-districts. Nearly half of the IDPs established three self-settled camps, while the remaining IDPs sheltered with host families who were providing blankets, food, tents, and other emergency relief items to the IDPs, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Southern and Central Syria

In late August, remaining residents and opposition group fighters in the Rif Damascus town of Darayya departed the town, effectively ending the four-year long siege of Darayya, through surrender of control of the town to the SARG, according to the UN. Approximately 600 civilians relocated to transitionary shelters established by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a nearby SARG-controlled town in Rif Damascus, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other relief agencies providing aid to Darayya residents. An estimated 1,500 opposition fighters and family members relocated to opposition-controlled areas of Idlib, the UN reports. In a statement following the event, ERC Stephen O’Brien emphasized that agreements resulting in the mass evacuation of civilians after an extended besiegement violate international humanitarian law. SARG forces had besieged Darayya since 2012, displacing the majority of the population that once stood at nearly 250,000 people prior to the conflict. Prior to the evacuation, SARG forces targeted Darayya with near daily aerial attacks, which included the use of incendiary weapons, according to the Darayya local council.

On September 22 and 26, the SARG coordinated multiple evacuations of an estimated 500 opposition group fighters and civilians from the besieged Al Wa’er neighborhood in the city of Homs to the UN-designated hard-to-reach town of Dar Kabira in northern rural Homs. The arrangement in Al Wa’er resembled the recent arrangement in Darayya in which the opposition conceded territory to the SARG in exchange for safe passage to opposition-controlled areas. An estimated 75,000 people remained in the besieged neighborhood and limited commercial and humanitarian activities were occurring as of late September.

During late August and September, offensives led by multiple armed groups in SARG-held areas of Hama Governorate resulted in the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people, with displaced households fleeing south to the city of Hama and north to opposition-controlled areas of Idlib Governorate, the UN reports. In response to the displacement, a 12-truck UN interagency convoy delivered multi-sector assistance, including emergency food assistance, nutritional supplements, and other relief items, to meet the immediate needs of 15,000 people in SARG-controlled areas of Hama. UNHCR and several NGOs provided humanitarian assistance to approximately 35,000 people in the city of Hama and surrounding areas.

International Syria Support Group Humanitarian Assistance Task Force advocacy enabled the UN, in collaboration with the SARC and ICRC, to reach more than 1.2 million people living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, including approximately 817,000 people in hard-to-reach areas and more than 400,000 people in besieged areas, with multi-sector humanitarian assistance between February and mid-September 2016. USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP are the largest donors of multi-sector humanitarian assistance delivered through interagency convoys. Despite increased access, UN interagency convoys reached only approximately 24 percent of the nearly five million people who were living in besieged and hard-to-reach locations. The SARG and other armed groups continue to impede adequate humanitarian access in multiple areas around the country.

Between mid-April and September 29, USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) conducted 127 airdrops of multi-sector assistance, totaling more than 2,300 metric tons (MT) of mixed food commodities, including food rations, date bars, salt, and yeast, to the ISIL-besieged city of Dayr az Zawr in Dayr az Zawr Governorate. In addition, WFP has airdropped nearly a 100 MT of relief commodities, including medical kits and water purification tablets, since June. WFP has airdropped sufficient quantities of assistance to provide two full monthly food rations to the approximately 110,000 people who are besieged in the city. In the city of Quamishli, Al Hasakah, WFP delivered nearly 3,200 MT of multi-sector humanitarian assistance through 85 airlifts, benefiting approximately 75,000 people, between July and September.

Limited humanitarian assistance has reached eastern Aleppo city since mid-July when SARG forces established complete control of Castello Road—the primary supply route into eastern Aleppo. The closure of Ramouseh Road— the only opposition supply route into eastern Aleppo—by SARG forces on September 4, effectively resulted in the complete siege of eastern Aleppo. As a result, civilian movement out of all opposition-held neighborhoods ceased and vehicles transporting commercial goods or humanitarian assistance have been unable to access the area since September 6, according to a USAID/OFDA partner. The siege and inability to deliver relief supplies has resulted in dwindling food stocks and fuel shortages, compromising the availability of electricity needed to pump water and maintain health facility functions. The military encirclement, constrained civilian movement, and lack of humanitarian access prompted the UN to designate eastern Aleppo city as a besieged location on September 29. With the designation, Syria’s besieged population increases from 586,200 people to 861,200 people, according to the UN.

Insecurity, SARG interference, and bureaucratic procedures continue to affect UN interagency convoys destined for hard-to-reach and besieged locations. In rural northern Homs, the UN was forced to cancel a convoy to the hard-toreach town of Ar Rastan—with an estimated population in need of 110,000 people—due to artillery strikes on the planned route. The UN also cancelled humanitarian convoys to the city of Douma in Rif Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta Region and the town of Moadamiyya in September due to SARG impediments. In Douma, the UN has only conducted one successful cross-line aid delivery from Damascus since 2014. The SARG also continues to remove medical supplies and lifesaving medications from convoys, despite the SARG initially approving the inclusion of the items.

On September 25, UN and SARC convoys delivered food assistance and relief supplies to 60,000 people in the besieged towns of Al Zabadani and Madaya in Rif Damascus and Al Fu’ah and Kafrayya in Idlib. The convoys were the first to reach the four towns since April. SARG authorities prevented the delivery of several medical items at each location, according to humanitarian actors. Despite the limited humanitarian access, the UN and SARC conducted several coordinated medical evacuations from the four towns. From September 8 to 9, SARC evacuated 25 people in need of medical treatment from the four towns, including at least 11 meningitis cases from Madaya. The UN and SARC also evacuated at least 57 people in need of medical treatment from the four towns in August.

WFP delivered food assistance to nearly 4.2 million people in 13 of the 14 governorates in Syria in August. The agency delivered approximately 28 percent of the total food assistance to high-conflict areas, including hard-to-reach and besieged locations. Of those assisted, WFP reached nearly 850,000 people in opposition-held Aleppo, Dar’a, Hama and Idlib governorates through cross-border food operations from Jordan and Turkey. WFP also provided food assistance to approximately 198,500 people in besieged and hard-to-reach locations in Homs and Rif Damascus utilizing interagency cross-line convoys.

Due to the tightened siege and intensified airstrikes and violence, the food security situation has deteriorated rapidly in eastern Aleppo since regular food assistance deliveries last reached the opposition-held area in mid-July. According to WFP data collected in August, more than 45 percent of households reported inadequate food consumption in August, as compared to 30 percent of households reporting these conditions in other accessible areas of Syria. Most food commodities are unavailable, in limited quantities, or exorbitantly priced in eastern Aleppo. Fuel shortages are also contributing to worsening food security, as people are unable to cook food when available. In late September, airstrikes damaged or destroyed at least three bakeries, resulting in civilian deaths and rendering some of the facilities inoperative, according to WFP.

In August, ICRC and SARC delivered an estimated 49,000 meals per day in urban and rural areas of Aleppo Governorate, including more than 13,000 meals for newly displaced families—more than 2,600 of whom were in western Aleppo. Additionally, SARC distributed more than 7,500 parcels of food and essential items and 10,500

packages of bread to households. ICRC also delivered drinking water daily to 70,000 residents, installed 44 water tanks in 14 locations, and provided primary care medicine for 15,000 patients, as well as medical kits for 300 wounded patients.

In August, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reached nearly 58,500 children and pregnant and lactating women in hard-to-reach and besieged locations with nutritional supplies, including therapeutic foods, ready-to-use complementary food and micronutrient supplements. From January to August, UNICEF and other nutrition actors have screened nearly 665,300 children and women for malnutrition. Of the 557,000 children screened, nutrition actors identified nearly 9,200 malnourished children and enrolled them in treatment programs.

Airstrikes are negatively affecting health services in eastern Aleppo city, and ongoing hostilities are increasing the strain on an already-overburdened health care system while resulting in a large number of casualties. As of September 30, only 29 doctors remained to staff the six hospitals that were still functional in eastern Aleppo, WHO reports. Medicine is reportedly still available, but medical supplies, such as anesthetics and surgery and trauma supplies are urgently needed; in addition, hospitals’ capacity to treat patients has diminished due to the increased number of casualties and continued airstrikes on hospitals and other health facilities.

In FY 2016, USAID/OFDA supported humanitarian partners to provide urgent health services to affected populations in Syria, benefitting more than 1.5 million people. USAID/OFDA provided critical medical supplies, including surgical kits and medicines, and supported partners to facilitate emergency medical treatment and conduct evacuations of wounded civilians. Partners also distributed hygiene kits and dignity kits for women, as well as newborn infant kits to displaced households.

Access to safe drinking water remains limited in eastern Aleppo despite service resumption of one of the water stations and repairs of the water network in the area. The Bab al-Nayrab water station in eastern Aleppo resumed water pumping operations on September 27 after sustaining damage by airstrikes on September 22. Airstrikes had previously damaged the water station and rendered it inoperative from late April to early May as well. In addition, military clashes near the Suleiman al-Halabi water pumping station resulted in the evacuation of staff and suspension of operations at the facility on September 30. The station previously provided approximately 70 percent of eastern Aleppo’s water supply, according to the UN.

Water networks continue to supply approximately 51 percent of water needs in Syria, with cross-border communities more reliant on water trucking than other communities, according to the Whole of Syria Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster. While water availability ranges from 20 to 100 liters of water per person per day in Syria, the average household uses between 40 and 50 liters of water per person per day. In addition, data shows that 98 percent of the people in Syria have access to a functioning toilet. However, water quality remains a key issue for the sector and the high cost of household income spent on purchasing water is a concern for the most vulnerable populations.

With USAID/OFDA support, humanitarian partners continue to respond to the emergency WASH needs of IDPs in informal settlements and collective centers in Syria, including to IDPs and returnee populations in the city of Menbij and surrounding areas. Partners meet WASH needs through water trucking, water purification activities, and waterquality monitoring, as well as through the distribution of hygiene kits.

A total of 57 UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools in Syria were damaged or destroyed since the onset of the conflict in 2011, and others remained inaccessible due to hostilities or were in use as collective shelters. To support displaced students without access to safe schools, UNRWA had

established 21 learning spaces in displacement sites and provided self-learning materials to displaced students as of September 30. Learning spaces include repurposed playgrounds where children are supervised by teachers and psychosocial support counselors.


The number of shelters at the Rukban informal settlement along the Syria–Jordan border—in an area known as the berm—has increased from more than 6,500 shelters in July to nearly 8,300 shelters as of early September, according to a UN analysis of satellite imagery. New shelters have appeared both in no-man’s land and north of the Syrian berm. The UN estimates that up to 75,000 people are stranded at the berm with limited access to food, medical services, safe drinking water, and shelter. The UN and Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (GoHKJ) continue to negotiate safe humanitarian access to the population at the berm and possible voluntary relocations of the population to alternative areas.

On August 3 and 4, WFP completed food distributions to people residing at the Rukban settlement at the berm. WFP used a crane to transfer 30-day food rations, bread, and hygiene items for households registered at Rukban.

Between August 3 and 25, UNHCR staff in Amman, Jordan, registered and renewed asylum certificates for more than 55,500 refugees residing in the Amman Municipality. During the period, UNHCR staff facilitated the registration or renewal of approximately 3,300 certificates a day, three times the normal pace of operations. Asylum certificate renewals provide valid identification for refugee children to register for school. As of August 30, nearly 362,800 Syrian refugees living outside of camps have registered with the GoHKJ across the country, according to the GoHKJ.


With USG support, UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies reached nearly 49,900 refugee households in Lebanon with monthly multi-purpose cash transfers as of July 31. Multi-purpose cash assistance provides critical support to severely vulnerable Syrian refugee households in Lebanon. The Lebanon Cash Consortium, UNICEF, UNHCR, and WFP also launched a joint tender to identify a single financial service provider to transfer cash and e-vouchers for food to refugees. The single provider will result in greater efficiency for participating agencies through the joint consolidation of functions and the sharing of operational costs.


In August, UNICEF commenced a series of teacher training sessions to improve the quality of children’s education in Temporary Education Centers in Turkey. UNICEF provided the trainings to nearly 11,500 Syrian volunteer teachers in 21 provinces as of September 30. The trainings are facilitated through 90 hours of instruction over a period of ten days and aim to provide teachers with essential skills, such as classroom management, planning and evaluation, and educational psychology and counseling, including psychosocial support.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), in partnership with the GoT Ministry of Labor, provided training to improve employability of refugees in Turkey in September. The ILO provided training courses in welding, automobile repair, and carpentry. ILO also provided Turkish language instruction and business development trainings.

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: October 31, 2016

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