Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #1 FY18

Speeches Shim

October 27, 2017

SDF recapture Ar Raqqah city following a four-month offensive

Humanitarian organizations respond to influx of IDPs from Dayr az Zawr

GoT announces major military operation against militant group HTS in Idlib

WHO confirms 52 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus to date in 2017ord 62 attacks on health care facilities from January to June

On October 20, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the recapture of Ar Raqqah Governorate’s city of Ar Raqqah from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); ISIS had taken control of the city in January 2014. SDF-led military operations to retake Ar Raqqah began on June 6 and culminated in intense fighting in the city’s centermost neighborhoods during the final weeks of the offensive, according to international media. As military operations concluded, SDF escorted the majority of civilians remaining in the city to nearby security screening sites, media reports.

Despite the recapture of Ar Raqqah, extensive explosive hazards contamination is impeding civilian and humanitarian access to the city. To prevent the premature return of civilians to unsafe areas, the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to provide aid to conflict-affected populations in displacement sites, transit locations, and host communities throughout northeastern Syria. Relief agencies are reaching an estimated 330,000 people per month with assistance.

With more than $1.5 billion in FY 2017 funding, the U.S. Government (USG) continues to support humanitarian assistance inside Syria, as well as relief efforts to support Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Cumulatively, the USG has provided nearly $7.5 billion in humanitarian assistance for the Syria complex emergency response since FY 2012.

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

3.3 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 2018

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


The Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian CCCM activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—has recorded nearly 1.1 million displacements from conflict-affected areas throughout Syria since October 2016, with approximately 62,000 new displacements, primarily from Dayr az Zawr Governorate, from early to mid-October. The overall figure includes nearly 998,900 displacements from northern Syria, including Al Hasakah, Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, Dayr az Zawr, Hamah, Homs, Idlib, and Latakia governorates, and approximately 35,000 displacements from southern Syria’s As Suwayda’, Damascus, Dar’a, and Rif Damascus governorates. There are an estimated 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria, while more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries since the start of the conflict, the UN reports.

Northern Syria

On October 20, the SDF announced the recapture of Ar Raqqah from ISIS, which had controlled the city since January 2014. Findings from an early October assessment indicated that the city had no functioning bakeries and a single functioning market, no health care services, no electricity, and insufficient safe drinking water. In addition, the majority of houses in the city are unsafe due to damage resulting from the military conflict, according to the assessment findings.

Military offensives in Dayr az Zawr continue to result in population displacement from and within the governorate. The CCCM Cluster registered nearly 52,400 displacements from and within Dayr az Zawr from early to mid-October; however, field reports indicate that the conflict has displaced as many as 115,600 people from October 9–16, according to Needs and Population Monitoring—an initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). IDPs from Dayr az Zawr are transiting through three primary checkpoints, where they remain for up to 48 hours to undergo SDF-led security screenings before proceeding to IDP sites in SDF-controlled areas of Al Hasakah and Ar Raqqah.

Humanitarian organizations are scaling up response efforts to address the needs of growing IDP populations throughout northeastern Syria. Through these efforts, relief agencies are reaching an estimated 330,000 people per month, including 56,000 people temporarily sheltering at nearly 50 IDP sites and settlements in Aleppo, Al Hasakah, Ar Raqqah, and Dayr az Zawr.

The Government of Turkey (GoT) announced support for a major military operation against militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib on October 7; since July, the militant group has expanded and consolidated control in Idlib. The operation, which will be led by the Free Syrian Army and augmented by Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF) military air support, follows a mid-September agreement between the GoT, the GoRF, and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish a de-escalation zone in the governorate, international media report. In a public statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan noted that GoT operations in Idlib aim to enable the return of displaced populations, including Syrian refugees in Turkey, to secure areas and mitigate safety and security concerns along the Syria–Turkey border.

Southern and Central Syria

More than 393,000 people reside in the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG)-besieged Eastern Ghouta region of Rif Damascus, where extremely limited commercial and humanitarian access is contributing to reduced availability of essential goods, increasing staple commodity prices, and deteriorating humanitarian indicators, international media report. Since January, bread and wheat flour prices in Eastern Ghouta have risen by 174 and 390 percent, respectively, and sugar and diesel prices have increased by more than 1,000 percent. Meanwhile, other basic food and non-food commodities—including cheese, eggs, meat, pulses, vegetable oil, and blankets—are reportedly unavailable in Eastern Ghouta markets. On September 23, a 42-truck interagency convoy delivered clothing, food assistance, health supplies, education materials, and nutrition items for 25,000 people in three besieged towns, representing the first humanitarian assistance to reach populations in Eastern Ghouta in more than three months. Despite the assistance, international media report at least one in four children in Eastern Ghouta is experiencing malnutrition, with the deaths of at least two children due to malnutrition reported as of October 23. The region’s deteriorating humanitarian situation is further exacerbated by the limited availability of health care services and safe drinking water in the region.

On October 15, State/PRM partner the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) re-opened two of its six schools in the Sbeineh Palestinian refugee camp, located approximately 14 kilometers south of Syria’s capital city of Damascus. The recently re-opened schools support nearly 550 students in grades one through nine; insecurity prompted the schools’ closures in December 2012.>/p>

In September, the UN and its partners dispatched 410 interagency convoys across conflict lines and through the UN-authorized border crossings of Bab al-Hawa, Bab al-Salaam, and Ramtha, delivering multi-sector assistance to at least 852,000 conflict-affected people in Syria. In addition, the UN deployed nearly 80 trucks overland from several SARG-controlled areas of western Syria to Al Hasakah’s city of Qamishli, while concurrently transporting humanitarian supplies overland from these areas to the city of Dayr az Zawr, which the SARG recaptured from ISIS in early September.

Food prices decreased slightly across most markets in Syria in September, with the average price of a standard food basket decreasing by approximately 1.3 percent compared to August, according to USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP). A standard food basket comprises dry food rations sufficient to sustain a five-person household for one month. Annual food price trends in Syria demonstrate an approximately 4 percent decrease in average food basket price from September 2016 to September 2017; the decrease is primarily attributed to a better harvest in 2017, WFP reports.

The lifting of the siege on Dayr Az Zawr increased food availability in the city as traders released products into the markets, resulting in decreased food prices in September. Within the city, the average food basket price decreased by more than 27 percent from August to September, although food prices in Dayr az Zawr Governorate continue to remain higher than the national average. Nonetheless, 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 97 percent and 73 percent higher than the national average, respectively.

Food and fuel prices in Eastern Ghouta continued to rise in September, with the price of a standard food basket increasing by approximately 50 percent since August and exceeding the national average food basket price by 239 percent, the Food Security Sector reports. As of September, the cost of a standard food basket in Eastern Ghouta was more than 107,700 SYP, or $209; WFP estimates the average monthly household income in Eastern Ghouta to be 25,000 SYP, or approximately $49. WFP notes that prices will likely continue to increase due to the October 3 closure of Eastern Ghouta's Al Wafideen checkpoint, which effectively suspended commercial access to the region, and rising taxes imposed on traders, which in recent months have increased by more than 471 percent. As a result, Eastern Ghouta markets have reportedly not received new supplies since early October, with the majority of available food commodities drawn from pre-October stocks, according to the Food Security Sector.

In July and August, humanitarian agencies—including WFP—provided emergency food assistance to an estimated 286,400 people in various locations of Eastern Ghouta, which has a total population of approximately 393,000 people, the Food Security Sector reports. Additionally, three interagency convoys provided 5,000 food baskets and 5,000 bags of flour to beneficiaries in Eastern Ghouta’s East Harasta, Misraba, and Modira towns in September. However, immense humanitarian needs, particularly for food and malnutrition treatment supplies, persist in Eastern Ghouta. According to the Food Security Sector, the closure of Al Wafideen checkpoint and prohibitively high fuel prices, which limit the functionality of bakeries, will likely continue to exacerbate the region’s poor food security and nutrition conditions.

From July 23 to October 12, UNRWA distributed nearly 110,900 food parcels to an estimated 368,300 people across Syria Food parcels are designed to meet approximately one-third of an individual’s daily caloric requirements and are adapted to address the specific needs of recipients.

As of October 17, USG partner the UN World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 52 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus in Syria, including four new cases confirmed since October 10. Health agencies recorded three of the new cases in Dayr az Zawr’s Al Mayadin District, where 42 of the poliovirus cases confirmed in 2017 have originated, with the remaining case identified in Dayr az Zawr’s Abu Kamal District.

In mid-October, the UN received reports of an attack that destroyed the only cold storage facility for vaccines, as well as other medical infrastructure, in Dayr az Zawr Governorate’s Al Mayadin District. Facilities believed to be affected by the attack stored more than 100,000 doses of measles vaccine and 35,000 doses of polio vaccine, including some doses planned for use during an ongoing vaccination campaign in the area, as well as syringes and other immunization supplies.

Health agencies completed the second round of a polio vaccination campaign in Ar Raqqah Governorate between October 7 and 13, reaching more than 144,400 children younger than five years of age, or approximately 96 percent of the campaign’s target population, with oral poliovirus vaccine. The beneficiaries included more than 4,500 children in 47 newly accessible settlements in western rural Ar Raqqah. By comparison, health agencies reached approximately 103,700 children during the first round of the campaign, which occurred in mid-August.

State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had registered more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as Egypt and other parts of northern Africa, as of October 19. Turkey continues to host the largest population of Syrian refugees, with nearly 3.3 million Syrian refugees registered in the country.

On October 16, Lebanese President Michel Aoun convened the UN ambassadors of the five permanent UN Security Council (UNSC) member countries, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States, as well as the E.U. Ambassador to Lebanon and the Deputy UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, to discuss Syrian refugees in Lebanon and advocate for returns to relatively more stable areas of Syria. President Aoun urged the UN and international community to support the creation of conditions conducive to voluntary refugee returns to Syria, which he emphasized should occur regardless of a political solution to the crisis. Following the meeting, the USG, other participating governments, and the UN released a joint statement affirming the need for returns to be safe, dignified, and voluntary; however, the statement also noted that local integration of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is not a viable long-term solution. As of June 30, Lebanon was hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees.

Between January and July, USG partner the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance to 1,550 informal settlements throughout Lebanon; each day, the assistance supported approximately 160,000 Syrian refugees, representing 60 percent of the settlements’ Syrian refugee population. In addition, UNICEF delivered more than 520,500 doses of routine vaccinations to refugee and host community children between January and June compared to approximately 429,000 doses administered during in the same period in 2016. In collaboration with its partners, UNICEF also continued to educate host and refugee communities about infant and young child feeding practices, reaching nearly 27,000 people since January.

The Jordan International NGO Forum (JIF), which includes multiple State/PRM partner organizations, continues to support the implementation of the April 2016 Jordan Compact, an agreement between the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and international community to respond to the economic and educational needs of Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan. Between April and October, JIF members programmed more than $39 million in education projects, benefiting nearly 429,000 people, and $39 million in livelihoods projects, benefiting more than 408,800 people, in Jordan. Beneficiaries comprise approximately 70 percent Syrian refugees and 30 percent host community residents. As of September 18, UNHCR had registered approximately 654,600 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

On October 4, the Government of Japan (GoJ) announced $3.5 million to support life-saving assistance for conflict-affected populations in Syria. The funding will enable UNICEF to provide critical health care services, including immunizations, and nutrition support for Syrian children and women, while also supporting UNHCR to provide primary health care services and referrals, as well as cash-based assistance, to vulnerable populations. The GoJ had contributed $852.7 million to the Syria complex emergency response as of mid-October, according 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, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (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: March 08, 2018

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