Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #1

Speeches Shim

February 09, 2017

Thousands flee as SARG forces regain control of eastern Aleppo city from opposition groups.

Nationwide ceasefire commences on December 30, excludes ISIL and JFS

Clashes in Wadi Barada obstruct water access for up to 5 million people

UN releases 2017 HNO, identifies 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria

U.S.-backed SDF launch offensive to gain control of Ar Raqqah city from ISIL

More than 6.3 million people are internally displaced in Syria due to the conflict that began in 2011, according to the UN. As of January 26, the number of people living in UN-designated besieged and hard-to-reach locations had increased from 4.5 million in October 2015 to more than 4.7 million people, including approximately 644,000 people residing in 13 besieged locations. Approximately 75 percent of the besieged population is located in Rif Damascus Governorate, while nearly 25 percent of all people in hard-toreach locations live in territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

After months of heavy fighting, Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) forces regained control of besieged eastern Aleppo city from armed opposition groups in midDecember, prompting the displacement of tens of thousands of people from eastern Aleppo to opposition-held areas of western Aleppo and Idlib governorates, as well as SARG-controlled areas in and around the city of Aleppo.

The UN adopted UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2332 on December 21, reauthorizing the UN and its humanitarian partners to deliver cross-line and cross-border assistance between Syria and Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey to people in need throughout Syria. UNSCR 2332 also renews the monitoring mechanism for the loading of all humanitarian relief supplies at each approved border crossing point until January 2018.

Numbers At A Glance

13.5 million

People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria

6.3 million

IDPs in Syria

4 million

People Reached per Month by USG Assistance in Syria

4.9 million

Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries

2.8 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 2016

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

A nationwide ceasefire agreement, brokered by the Government of Iran (GoI), Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF), and Government of Turkey (GoT), between the SARG and some armed opposition groups commenced on December 30, 2016. The agreement excludes ISIL and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), which SARG, GoT, GoRF, and U.S-led Coalition forces continue to target. Despite some breaches, the nationwide ceasefire has contributed to an overall reduction in the levels of violence throughout Syria, and continued to hold as of February 5, the UN reports.

On January 23 and 24, 2017, parties to the nationwide ceasefire agreement, as well as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George A. Krol, met in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana for political negotiations aimed to support the ceasefire and ensure progress towards a political settlement during UN-mediated peace talks, scheduled to begin in Geneva, Switzerland, in February. Following the talks, the GoI, GoRF, and GoT delegations issued a joint statement expressing support for the nationwide ceasefire and intent to form a trilateral mechanism for ensuring its compliance.

The UN released the 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) on December 1, identifying 13.5 million people—including 5.8 million children—in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. The HNO also identifies 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria and more than 170,000 people who remain stranded at Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey. Priority humanitarian needs for 2017 include emergency food assistance, health care, shelter support, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance.

Northern Syria

On November 5, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commenced an offensive to gain control of Syria’s city of Ar Raqqah from ISIL forces. As of January 15, the military offensive had displaced at least 13,000 people from Ar Raqqah District and surrounding areas to Ar Raqqah Governorate’s Maadan, Sabka, and Suluk sub-districts, Aleppo’s Azaz, Jarablus, and Menbij districts, and Idlib’s Dana District, according to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster; however, many people who fled to surrounding areas in Ar Raqqah are returning to their houses as the fighting subsides. The UN estimates that up to 400,000 people may be in need of humanitarian assistance in Ar Raqqah, including more than 150,000 IDPs, and the offensive is expected to displace up to 300,000 people in the coming months.

Following a late-October attempt by an alliance of armed opposition groups to break the SARG-imposed siege of eastern Aleppo city, SARG ground offensives in western Aleppo city accompanied extensive attacks into armed opposition group locations along the frontlines and into eastern Aleppo from mid-to-late November, killing approximately 500 people and wounding 1,600 others in eastern Aleppo, according to the Syrian Civil Defense. Armed opposition group shelling into residential areas of western Aleppo during the same period also resulted in civilian casualties and damage to public infrastructure, and had displaced nearly 22,000 people within western Aleppo as of November 17, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Additionally, heavy shelling and suspected GoRF or SARG airstrikes had rendered all remaining hospitals in east Aleppo inoperable as of late November.

SARG forces regained control of opposition-held eastern Aleppo city in mid-December, prompting the displacement of tens of thousands of people from eastern Aleppo to surrounding SARG-held areas and to opposition-held areas of western Aleppo and Idlib. Between November 24 and January 26, the UN registered more than 160,000 IDPs from eastern Aleppo, including more than 120,000 people displaced to SARG-controlled areas in and surrounding Aleppo city and approximately 36,100 people displaced to opposition-held areas of rural, western Aleppo and Idlib.

The majority of IDPs who remained in Aleppo city found temporary shelter in the Jibreen and Mahelej transitional shelters, in the initial weeks after the evacuations; however relief agencies and local authorities supported the closure and evacuation of the Mahelej transitional shelter on December 24 and 25 due to severe winter weather and inadequate shelter conditions that resulted in an unverified number of child deaths, according to the UN. While the majority of IDPs from Mahelej returned to their houses in eastern Aleppo or moved in with relatives in western Aleppo, approximately 750 remaining IDPs transferred to the nearby Jibreen collective center where approximately 5,000 people remained as early January. Humanitarian conditions are comparatively better in Jibreen, but still in need of improvement, according to OCHA. 

As the security situation in Aleppo city stabilized in early-to-mid January 2017, additional IDP households began returning to their homes in eastern Aleppo. Nearly 41,000 IDPs had returned to the eastern Aleppo neighborhoods of Al-Qaser, Hanano, and Tariq Al-Bab as of January 20, OCHA reports. Many houses in east Aleppo sustained significant damage and remained structurally unsound. Additionally, many houses in east Aleppo had been looted. Accordingly, affected IDP households require additional assistance to rebuild their lives, OCHA reports. To date, UN agencies have distributed blankets, clothing, kitchen sets, shelter supplies, and WASH items, among other commodities, to affected households.

Operation Euphrates Shield, the GoT-backed Free Syrian Army offensive against ISIL in northern Aleppo had prompted the displacement of at least 1,700 people from the ISIL-held town of Al Bab as of November 20, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least 1,000 people had fled to Aleppo’s town of Menbij, 200 people to the town of Azaz, and approximately 500 people to the town of Al Ra’ee. In December, ongoing clashes in Al Bab District and surrounding areas displaced nearly 5,200 individuals within the district. In addition, ISIL had forced nearly 750 people out of the Aleppo town of Al Khafsa and had threatened to detain anyone who remained in the town, according to IOM.

Southern and Central Syria

The SARG has secured multiple opposition-controlled areas surrounding Damascus through imposed reconciliation agreements brought about by escalated siege warfare. Since October, the imposition of prolonged sieges and military encirclement has resulted in opposition surrenders in the Rif Damascus towns of Hameh, Kanaker, Khan Eshieh, Moadamiyya, Qudsaya, At Tall, and Zakyeh, as well as the Wadi Barada area. As part of the agreements, thousands of irreconcilable fighters and other civilians relocated to Idlib, while the remaining population relinquished heavy weaponry to SARG authorities, and men wanted for military conscription agreed to settle their legal statuses with the SARG. In exchange, the SARG has eased humanitarian and commercial access constrictions, and promised to restore government-provided services, such as bakeries, as well as electricity and water services. The immediate aftermath of the surrenders has brought about humanitarian improvements, primarily through improved commercial access that has significantly reduced prices for basic items. The SARG has also authorized UN interagency humanitarian convoys to nearly all the reconciled locations. Despite these improvements, several protection issues related to military conscription, housing, land and property, and arrest operations have been reported.

ISIL forces severely damaged the Hayyan gas processing facility in eastern Homs Governorate on January 8. The Hayyan gas facility is located approximately 36 kilometers west of Homs’ Palmyra city, and was the largest gas processing plant in Syria. Beyond the short-term effects, including potential price increases for cooking fuel and power outages throughout Damascus, Dar’a, Al Qunaytirah, Rif Damascus, and As Suwayda’ governorates, the destruction of the Hayyan plant will likely further disrupt the broader Syrian economy through decreased power generation, increased prices of gas and fuel, and additional dependence on gas imports. Prior to the incident, ISIL forces seized a significant amount of territory in Tadmor sub-district, including the city of Palmyra as of December 11. The ISIL advances prompted the displacement of more than 3,400 people towards the city of Homs, according to a USAID/OFDA partner.

As of January 3, the UN and implementing non-governmental organization (NGO) partners had access to all of the city of Aleppo, however, explosive remnants of war contamination has hindered access to some areas, and harsh winter conditions have exacerbated humanitarian needs. In accessible areas, humanitarian agencies are providing emergency relief assistance, including emergency food, safe drinking water, and health, nutrition, shelter, and WASH support. In western Aleppo, relief agencies, including USAID partners, are providing humanitarian aid, including food assistance and other relief items, to more than 450,000 affected people. Additionally, the UN has recently provided 250 metric tons (MT) of medical supplies, sufficient to treat up to 300,000 patients, to Aleppo city. The UN also delivered medicine for approximately 430,000 treatments in December

Currently, UN and NGO access to Ar Raqqah District is constrained due to insecurity and ISIL’s restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, with the last UN interagency convoy to Ar Raqqah taking place in October 2013.

In response to the recent and expected population displacement from Ar Raqqah, the international humanitarian community, including U.S. Government (USG) partners, has developed response contingency plans, scaled up stocks of emergency relief supplies, and pre-positioned thousands of additional relief items in northern Syria and southern Turkey for rapid delivery and distribution to conflict-affected populations as needed. Ten USAID partners are currently providing humanitarian services to Ar Raqqah IDPs in multiple locations in northern Syria, and USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), based in Amman, Jordan, and Adana, Turkey, is working closely with other USG agencies, the UN, and NGO partners to ensure humanitarian personnel and supplies are well-positioned to respond to any large-scale displacement and humanitarian needs that arise from the ongoing offensive, as security and access permit.

Humanitarian access to besieged areas, which are primarily reached through crossline interagency convoys from Damascus, has reduced significantly in recent months. Since October, the SARG allowed the UN to conduct 10 interagency convoys—and only three since December—to provide assistance to approximately 312,000 people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. By contrast, the UN conducted nearly 90 such convoys from January–September 2016, reaching nearly 1 million people, many on multiple occasions. From October–November, UN convoys delivered lifesaving assistance to approximately 97,000 people across the Rif Damascus towns of Harasta, Madaya, Qudsaya, and Az Zabadani; 70,000 in the besieged neighborhood of Al Wa’er in the city of Homs; and 15,000 in the Idlib towns of Al Fu’ah and Kafraya. Since December, the UN has conducted three interagency convoys, including to the besieged town of Khan Eshieh to meet the needs of 6,000 people, the formerly besieged town of Moadamiyya to meet the needs of 40,000 people, and the northern rural Homs town of Talbiseh to meet the needs of 84,000 people. In all cases, the SARG prohibited the delivery of critical items, including surgical supplies, medicine, and other relief commodities. In several besieged areas that are reliant on crossline humanitarian deliveries, conditions have deteriorated significantly, particularly in Madaya, Az Zabadani, and Al Wa’er.

The latest Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted by the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and released in November, indicates record low food production in Syria. The CFSAM notes that wheat cultivation in 2015-2016 cropping season decreased by 55 percent as compared to pre-war levels, and anticipates a shortfall of more than 830,000 MT of wheat in 2016/2017 compared to national requirements. The CFSAM also shows that the area planted to cereal in 2015/2016 season is the smallest on record, and livestock production has also significantly diminished since the start of the conflict, with 60 percent less poultry.

As of January 14, the UN had started dispatching 45 MT of wheat flour per day to humanitarian partners to ensure the resumption of bread production and distribution throughout eastern Aleppo. Subsequently, the UN planned to reduce the frequency of bread distributions in eastern Aleppo to twice weekly. Between January 12 and 19, the UN had distributed more than 288,000 bread bundles to households in eastern Aleppo. The UN had also provided food rations to households in eastern Aleppo city and western Aleppo’s Al Deen, Al Azamyah, and Martini neighborhoods and was facilitating the provision of hot meals twice daily for approximately 40,000 people in eastern and western parts of the city through communal kitchens.

WFP suspended humanitarian airdrops to the ISIL-besieged city of Dayr az Zawr in mid-January following ISIL advances that disrupted humanitarian access to approximately 93,500 people living in SARG-held areas, according to OCHA. After identifying an additional drop zone, WFP resumed the air operations on January 29; however, the temporary absence of WFP airdrops has severely affected the food security situation in Dayr az Zawr. As of January 28, WFP had completed 177 airdrop rotations, delivering more than 3,300 MT of relief items in Dayr az Zawr, since commencing airdrop operations to the city in mid-April. Across Syria, the UN agency dispatched food assistance for approximately 3.6 million people in 13 of Syria’s 14 governorates in January.

The number of food insecure people in Dar’a and Quneitra—nearly 360,000 people—increased by nearly 88,600 people during the past year, according to the 2017 HNO. Additionally, 352,220 people across the two governorates are in need of food assistance. In Dar’a, food insecurity prevalence increased in 13 of 17 sub-districts, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Ash Shajara and Jasim sub-districts.

As of November 9, medical personnel had suspended services at a clinic in the SARG-besieged town of Madaya due to a shortage of supplies and trained specialists, OCHA reports. The suspension follows the death of two civilians due to insufficient medical supplies in Madaya and the inability to conduct medical evacuations. The clinic was replaced by an informal, mobile emergency care point with limited capacity and can only treat emergency cases. Although the SARG and opposition groups previously allowed the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to conduct medical evacuations and prisoner exchanges, delays in securing necessary approvals often prevents timely emergency medical evacuations of civilians.

In December, USAID/OFDA partner the UN World Health Organization (WHO) supported the implementation of a medical evacuation plan for critically ill and injured people from eastern Aleppo. As part of the plan, WHO and other Health Cluster members mobilized more than 150 ambulances for patient transportation and medical triage at collection points in western rural Aleppo. Cumulatively, health staff referred approximately 800 patients to eight hospitals in western Aleppo and Idlib; nearly 100 patients required specialized care and were subsequently transported to hospitals in Turkey. To ensure the hospitals’ capacity to treat the influx of patients from eastern Aleppo, humanitarian agencies provided hospitals with additional medicines and supplies, including Interagency Emergency Health Kits sufficient for more than 300,000 medical treatments and trauma and surgical supply kits to treat more than 1,500 patients. In addition, health staff activated 26 mobile health teams to provide primary health care services, mental health screening and treatment, nutrition screening, and referrals along the evacuation route. In total, the mobile teams conducted nearly 8,850 consultations between December 15 and 23.

USAID/OFDA also continues to support several NGO partners to respond to the health needs of conflict-affected populations. USAID/OFDA-funded activities include health care services, training for Syrian medical workers, the provision of medical supplies, and support for polio vaccination campaigns.

Relief agencies are responding to severe weather-related needs of conflict-affected and displaced populations during the 2016/2017 winter season. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a USG partner, reached more than 1.3 million people in Syria with assistance via its 2016 winter program, which includes measures to ensure adequate insulation of structures and provide vulnerable households with winterization cash grants. Cumulatively, humanitarian organizations provided approximately 1.5 million people throughout Syria with winterization kits in 2016, the Shelter Cluster reports.

In northern Syria, Shelter/Non-Food Item Cluster members had delivered nearly 107,000 thermal blankets and nearly 74,300 heaters and had reached more than 113,000 adults and children with winter clothing in northern Syria as of December 1. The cluster plans to complete the distribution of nearly 662,000 liters of fuel in Aleppo; more than 393,000 liters of fuel in Idlib; and approximately 37,000 liters of fuel in Hama governorate.

To mitigate risks associated with severe weather conditions, particularly among conflict-affected and displaced populations, USAID/OFDA partners have procured, transported, and initiated the distribution of critical winter items throughout accessible areas of Syria. Between November and February, six USAID/OFDA partners plan to assist approximately 300,000 people in northern Syria’s Aleppo, Al Hasakah, Hamah, and Idlib governorates through the distribution of seasonally appropriate relief supplies, shelter rehabilitation kits, and relief item vouchers. Other partners have also redirected stocks to meet the winter needs of newly displaced people in Aleppo and Idlib.

Up to 5 million people in the greater Damascus area remain without a reliable source of safe drinking water due to fighting in the military-encircled area of Wadi Barada, Rif Damascus, which damaged a critical water facility in Rif 6 Damascus’ town of Ein Elfijeh on December 23. The clashes prohibited technical teams from accessing and repairing the facility for several weeks until the SARG and armed opposition group forces reached a ceasefire agreement on January 28, enabling technical teams to begin repairs, OCHA reports. As of January 30, maintenance teams had initiated repairs to damaged water infrastructure in the town of Ein Elfijeh, restoring the provision of safe drinking water to some areas of Damascus. Additional repairs necessary to ensure the full restoration of water service throughout the greater Damascus area could take up to 45 days, a USAID/OFDA partner reports.

As of January 20, an estimated 1.8 million people in Aleppo city and surrounding areas remained without access to their primary source of safe drinking water due to a technical failure at the Al Khafsa water pumping station in ISIL-held eastern Aleppo Governorate on January 14, OCHA reports. Although repair of the facility was possible, ISIL continued to prohibit repair teams from accessing the facility. In coordination with humanitarian agencies, the Aleppo water authority is addressing water supply gaps, including by operating 90 wells that provide access to safe drinking water for nearly 1 million people. The UN has installed more than 60 water tanks and rehabilitated an additional 100 wells, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is trucking approximately 6 million liters of water per day for an estimated 400,000 people. The UN organization is also supplying water purification supplies and fuel to operate wells throughout the city. Additionally, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian organizations installed more than 100 water tanks in various neighborhoods, conducted maintenance on approximately 120 wells, and provided additional water trucking services throughout the city, according to OCHA.

On December 5, UN agencies and NGO partners issued the 2017/2018 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), requesting more than $4.6 billion to support an estimated 4.7 million Syrian refugees and 4.1 million host community members in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. The plan, which was formally launched at the January 24 Helsinki Conference on Supporting Syrians and the Region, seeks to coordinate a region-wide response among 240 humanitarian organizations. Specifically, the plan seeks to respond to the protection and assistance needs of refugees and host communities, while concurrently addressing their resilience and stabilization needs and building capacity among national and sub-national service delivery systems as well as host governments to lead response efforts.


UNHCR is providing essential winter items, including blankets, heating stoves, plastic tarpaulin, tent insulation kits, and containers for kerosene and water, as well as cash assistance and kerosene, to nearly 178,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. UNHCR plans to continue winter-item distributions until February 2017.


The UN continues to deliver assistance to populations in need along the Syria–Jordan border berm, where approximately 47,000 displaced people were sheltering as of February 2016. On November 22, WFP and other UN agencies resumed the delivery of food and non-food assistance to the population sheltering along the berm, representing the first time WFP was able to reach the population since August 2016. WFP provided in-kind food assistance to nearly 10,100 households along the berm from November–January 2017.

With State/PRM support, UNICEF has provided cash assistance or vouchers valued at $28 per child to Syrian refugees in Jordan for the provision of winter clothing. The campaign, which began in November and concluded in December, reached at least 63,850 Syrian children in Jordan’s Azraq and Za’atri camps, nearly 64,580 Syrian refugee children in host communities, and 25,000 vulnerable Jordanian children, enabling them to purchase coats and other warm clothing for the winter.


State/PRM partner UNHCR reports that the Government of Lebanon has replaced a requirement for a notarized pledge not to work in Lebanon with a declaration to abide by Lebanese laws. Refugees were previously required to submit the pledges when renewing their residency permits. The change allows registered Syrian refugees with valid residency in Lebanon to work legally in the agriculture, construction, cleaning, and sanitation sectors. However, the 7 $200 annual residency renewal fee remains an obstacle to legal protection and documentation for most refugees. As of August, UNHCR estimated that 60 percent of Syrian refugees lacked valid residency and 89 percent of households had at least one member without a valid residency.

Since November, UNHCR has provided Syrian refugees in Lebanon with more than 23,000 weatherproofing kits to insulate tents. UNHCR has also provided more than 125,000 refugee families with cash assistance. Additionally, UNHCR’s 2016/2017 winter support program plans to reach 850,000 people in need in Lebanon.

USAID/FFP partner WFP continues to provide electronic food vouchers to vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon; the vouchers can be used at nearly 500 shops. In December 2016, WFP reached more than 690,000 Syrian refugees with food assistance.


UNHCR is also conducting winterization support for Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkey. As of January 22, UNHCR and municipality staff were implementing an urgent referral mechanism intended to identify and assist vulnerable refugee families with additional one-off cash assistance for winterization purposes. The mechanism, established in coordination with local authorities, prioritizes families living in areas with the most severe winter weather conditions and is intended to provide support in addition to regular winter cash assistance activities.

On November 1, 2016, the Government of Kuwait (GoK) announced the contribution of an additional $4 million to UNICEF to support humanitarian activities in Syria and surrounding countries. Since 2013, the GoK has contributed a total of approximately $140 million in humanitarian funding for the Syria response, including emergency health and nutrition assistance.

On February 5, the Government of China (GoC) signed two agreements with the SARG Planning and International Cooperation Commission, committing an additional $16 million in humanitarian assistance for Syria. Since 2012, the GoC has contributed more than $17.8 million toward response activities benefiting 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.

On July 14, 2014, the UNSC 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. The UNSC has subsequently adopted several resolutions renewing the mandate of UNSCR 2165, most recently in December 2016 with the adoption of UNSCR 2332, extending the authorities granted until January 2018.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (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 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: February 22, 2017

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