Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #9 FY18

Speeches Shim

September 30, 2017

  • Ar Raqqah offensive displaces nearly 268,800 people since April; up to 8,000 people remain in two neighborhoods in city of Ar Raqqah.
  • Humanitarian convoys reach city of Dayr az Zawr following SARG military advances into the city in September.
  • USG humanitarian assistance to Syria reaches nearly $7.5 billion since start of Syria crisis.

An estimated 6.3 million people are internally displaced in Syria, while more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees remain displaced to neighboring countries, according to the UN. The Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian CCCM activities, comprising UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders—recorded more than 948,600 displacements from conflict-affected areas throughout Syria from September 2016 to September 2017, with an estimated 39,000 new displacements recorded in September 2017 alone. As of September 27, nearly 3 million people were residing in UN-identified hard-to-reach (HTR) areas of the country, including more than 419,900 people living in besieged locations.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) offensive to recapture Ar Raqqah Governorate from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to result in population displacement and increased humanitarian needs. Between April 1 and September 27, the CCCM Cluster registered nearly 268,800 displacements from or within Ar Raqqah. As security conditions allow, humanitarian organizations are responding to the urgent needs of conflict-affected people in Ar Raqqah and neighboring governorates.

On September 21, the U.S. Government (USG) announced more than $697 million in humanitarian funding for Syria and neighboring countries. The announcement, which was made by State/PRM Acting Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw, includes nearly $263 million from USAID/OFDA, more than $242 million from USAID/FFP, and nearly $192 million from State/PRM to support humanitarian assistance inside Syria as well as humanitarian efforts in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the broader region.

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

5.3 million

Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries

3.2 million

Syrian Refugees in Turkey

1 million

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon


Syrian Refugees in Jordan


Syrian Refugees in Iraq


Palestinian Refugees in Syria

Humanitarian Funding

To Syria Humanitarian Response
FY 2012 - FY 2017

USAID/OFDA $1,448,918,764
USAID/FFP $2,297,390,024
State/PRM $3,736,575,196
TOTAL $7,482,883,984


As of September 27, nearly 3 million people were residing in UN-identified HTR areas of Syria, including more than 419,900 people living in besieged locations. The figure represents a decrease of approximately 33 percent—or nearly 1.6 million people—since June 30, when the UN estimated that more than 4.5 million people resided in HTR or besieged locations. Between June and September, the UN removed the city of Dayr az Zawr and the neighborhood of Barza al-Balad in the capital city of Damascus as besieged locations after the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) regained control of both locations. During the same time period, the UN added Rif Damascus Governorate’s HTR village of Bait Jan as besieged by SARG troops.

The CCCM Cluster has recorded more than 948,600 displacements from conflict-affected areas throughout Syria since September 2016, with an estimated 39,000 new displacements recorded during September 2017 alone. The overall figure includes approximately 911,100 displacements from areas of intense fighting in northern Syria, including Al Hasakah, Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, Dayr az Zawr, Hamah, Homs, Idlib, and Latakia governorates, and more than 37,500 displacements from southern Syria’s As Suwayda’, Damascus, Dar’a, and Rif Damascus governorates. An estimated 6.3 million people are internally displaced in Syria, while more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries since September 2016, the UN reports.

Northern Syria

The SDF offensive to recapture Ar Raqqah from ISIS continues to drive population displacement. Between April 1 and September 27, the CCCM Cluster registered nearly 268,800 displacements from or within Ar Raqqah Governorate. The figure includes approximately 209,000 people displaced within the governorate; an estimated 39,800 people who fled to Aleppo; nearly 13,300 people who fled to Idlib; 6,700 people who fled to Dayr az Zawr; and nearly 100 people who fled to Hamah.

Civilians continue to flee the city of Ar Raqqah despite civilian movement restrictions and reports of landmines and sniper fire along southern escape routes, relief organizations report. A late September humanitarian assessment found that up to 8,000 people remained in two of the city’s 24 neighborhoods, while the remaining 22 neighborhoods were vacant, according to the REACH Initiative. The assessment findings indicate an estimated departure of 6,000 people and emptying of four additional neighborhoods since mid-August.

Humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate in the city of Ar Raqqah due to the ongoing conflict. As of late September, food markets are reportedly functional in only two of the city’s neighborhoods, with many staple food items available sporadically and at elevated prices, according to the REACH Initiative. Households remaining in the city continue to rely on previously stored food supplies and are employing coping mechanisms, including reducing meal sizes, skipping meals, or purchasing food on credit, according to the assessment.

On September 9, the Syrian Arab Coalition—a division of the SDF—commenced an offensive to retake remaining ISIS-held areas in the Khabur River Valley, including parts of southern Al Hasakah and northern Dayr az Zawr, according to international media. SDF forces had reached an industrial zone east of the city of Dayr az Zawr by September 10, advancing to within 10 miles of SARG forces, who broke ISIS’s nearly three-year siege on the city on September 5 as part of a concurrent, but uncoordinated, anti-ISIS operation, international media report.

Military operations continue to displace populations from and within Dayr az Zawr; from September 21–28, conflict displaced more than 50,000 people within the governorate and to neighboring Al Hasakah and Ar Raqqah, according to State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After arriving at initial displacement sites in Al Hasakah, Ar Raqqah and Dayr az Zawr, internally displaced persons (IDPs) typically depart to other governorates due to the difficulty of obtaining sponsorship to reside in host communities outside of designated IDP camps, the REACH Initiative reports. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) anticipates at least 852,000 affected individuals may require humanitarian assistance due to the military operations.

Intensified clashes in Hamah Governorate displaced more than 20,500 people from Oqeirbat sub-district to several areas in Aleppo, Hamah, and Idlib governorates between July 1 and September 28. More than half of the IDPs—approximately 10,300 people—were displaced during the month of September alone. Relief agencies are providing multi-sector humanitarian assistance at Idlib’s Maaret Elekhwan and Aleppo’s Mezanaz IDP reception centers—the two primary reception centers serving populations from Oqeirbat. As of September 26, the reception centers were hosting more than 3,700 IDPs, exceeding their cumulative 3,400-person capacity.

Southern and Central Syria

Approximately 50,000 Syrians remained stranded along the Syria–Jordan border berm, with limited access to humanitarian assistance and essential services as of late September, according to relief agencies. On September 28, the Jordan International NGO Forum released a statement urging immediate and unhindered access to the informal Rukban settlement and highlighting growing humanitarian needs, including shelter, food, health care, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance. The UN continues to advocate for regular and uninterrupted humanitarian assistance from Jordan to populations stranded at the berm, particularly amid deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

As of late September, international media reported that the southern Syria ceasefire agreement, covering As Suwayda’, Dar’a, and Quneitra governorates, continued to hold, contributing to an overall decrease in conflict in southwestern Syria. Nonetheless, relief agencies report no significant improvement in humanitarian access and conditions. The ceasefire agreement—brokered by the USG, the Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF), and the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan—went into effect in southwestern Syria on July 9.

Despite access challenges, humanitarian organizations, including USG partners, continue to address the multi-sector needs of conflict-affected populations in northeastern Syria. Food Security Sector partners delivered food assistance to nearly 333,900 people across northeastern Syria, including to more than 277,000 people in Ar Raqqah, during the month of August. In addition, relief agencies are expanding IDP sites to accommodate the anticipated influx of IDPs resulting from military operations in Dayr az Zawr. Once complete, UNHCR reports that three sites in Al Hasakah—Al Hol, Areesheh, and Mabroka—will have the capacity to host an estimated 70,300 displaced persons; the sites were hosting approximately 42,000 people as of mid-September.

Following the re-establishment of overland access to the city of Dayr az Zawr in early September, a 40-truck humanitarian convoy organized by the GoRF arrived to the city of Dayr az Zawr from Homs on September 7; the convoy delivered food, fuel, and medical supplies, international media report. However, UN agencies did not participate in or provide relief supplies for the convoy.

Two interagency humanitarian convoys reached the city on September 14 and 27. The first interagency convoy, organized by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, reached Dayr az Zawr on September 14. As part of the convoy, UNHCR provided hygiene kits, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting, solar lamps, and shelter supplies sufficient for 30,000 people, while the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provided 20,000 sanitary napkins and 4,000 dignity kits. On September 27, a second interagency convoy organized by the Logistics Cluster delivered health, nutrition, and WASH supplies to the city. The delivery included 25 metric tons (MT) of malnutrition prevention and treatment supplies, sufficient for 17,000 children, from WFP.

In addition, USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) delivered wheat flour—sufficient to meet the needs of approximately 70,000 people—to the city via road on September 17, representing the first time the UN agency had reached the city by road since May 2014. Prior to September, WFP had provided life-saving assistance to the city through costly airdrop operations, providing more than 6,000 MT of food commodities and supplies to the city since its commencing its airdrop operations in April 2016. The UN estimates 93,500 people in the city require emergency assistance.

To date in 2017, UN agencies and partners have delivered multi-sector assistance to more than 769,000 people in besieged and HTR areas of Syria. Relief organizations have delivered emergency assistance through more than 40 interagency convoys, while more than 140 WFP-led airdrops provided more than 2,900 MT of emergency food assistance to besieged populations in the city of Dayr Az Zawr.

Food prices decreased slightly across most markets in Syria in August, with the average price of a food basket decreasing by approximately 1.7 percent compared to July, according to the most recent WFP Market Monitoring Assessment. WFP reports that improved security in some besieged and hard-to-reach areas has increased food availability and lowered prices in some markets. In Dayr az Zawr, the average food basket price dropped by 8 percent from July to August; however, food prices in Dayr az Zawr remain significantly higher than the national average. Access to food remains a serious concern for populations in rural Dayr az Zawr, as well as the city of Ar Raqqah, where the average food basket price was 63 percent and 28 percent higher than the national average, respectively.

On September 19, airstrikes impacted several health facilities in southern Idlib and northern Hamah, killing three civilians and wounding several others and rendering three hospitals, three ambulance centers, and three civil defense facilities inoperative, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations. The three hospitals, located in Idlib’s Kafr Nabl, Khan Sheikhoun, and Heish sub-districts, provided a total of 16,250 health consultations each month, in addition to providing surgical and trauma care. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reports nearly 100 attacks on health care workers and facilities to date in 2017, and recorded nearly 210 attacks in 2016.

WHO delivered more than 7 MT of medical supplies and medicines, sufficient to treat more than 16,000 patients and 100 trauma cases, to the Tabqa National Hospital, located in Ar Raqqah’s Al Thawrah District, in mid-September to respond to health needs of IDPs in the governorate. The delivery included medicines for trauma care, diarrheal diseases, and non-communicable diseases, as well as X-ray and ultrasound machines, ventilators, and wheelchairs. WHO support also facilitated the reopening of the hospital’s emergency services department, which had been closed since February 2017 after the hospital was damaged.

As of September 30, health agencies were preparing for the second round of a poliovirus vaccination campaign in Ar Raqqah; WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted the first round of the Ar Raqqah vaccination campaign from August 12–17. The UN agencies had previously completed two rounds of poliovirus immunizations in Dayr az Zawr in July and August, and health centers in the governorate were continuing to provide vaccinations to children not reached by the campaign as of September 30.

On August 1, a USAID partner began overseeing site management and WASH activities at Ar Raqqah’s Ein Issa IDP site. The partner is conducting hygiene promotion activities and plans to install more than 100 additional gender-segregated latrines to meet previously identified needs. Another USAID partner recently installed 30 latrines and four septic tanks at the site, and is continuing work to extend Ein Issa’s water supply network to the eastern area of the site, where UN agencies had reportedly erected more than 960 tents to accommodate new arrivals as of late August.

In August, State/PRM partner the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provided Palestinian refugees in Syria with humanitarian assistance, including cash transfers and food, education, health, shelter, protection, and WASH assistance. The agency distributed food parcels to nearly 202,800 Palestinian refugees in six governorates in Syria; the beneficiaries included more than 700 Palestinian refugees in Dar’a directly affected by conflict in the governorate.

UNRWA also distributed nearly 43,800 hygiene items to Palestinian refugees in August and continued to deliver safe drinking water to refugee camps and host communities. In addition, the agency supported 26 health facilities across Syria, providing nearly 71,700 health consultations at the facilities in August, and subsidized health care services for Palestinian refugees at 27 hospitals in Syria.

On September 19, the Government of Norway (GoN) announced an additional $10.2 million to provide life-saving assistance to IDPs fleeing conflict and populations residing in locations recently recaptured from ISIS. The GoN pledged $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance in Syria for 2016–2020 during the 2016 Donors Pledging Conference in London, and had contributed $760.8 million as of mid-September, according to OCHA.

Following the commencement of peaceful demonstrations against the SARG in March 2011, President Bashar al-Asad pledged legislative reforms. However, reforms failed to materialize, and SARG forces loyal to President al-Asad began responding to demonstrations with violence, leading armed oppositions 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. The USG recognized the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people on December 11, 2012. On March 19, 2013, the Syrian Coalition 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 UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted UN Security Council Resolution (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 the UN Secretary-General and with the consent of 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.

Prior to the start of the conflict, UNRWA had registered approximately 560,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, with more than 80 percent living in and around Damascus. Intense fighting in and around some 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 in 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 25, 2017

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