Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #7 FY18

Speeches Shim

May 11, 2018

SARG and GoRF reach local agreements with AOGs to evacuate AOG-controlled areas in Homs, Idlib, and Rif Damascus

SARG completes military offensive in Eastern Ghouta following the displacement of 158,000 people since March 9

Relief agencies continue to assist an estimated 44,000 Eastern Ghouta IDPs sheltering in Rif Damascus collective centers

As of May 7, Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) airstrikes, ground clashes, and shelling continued in Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-held southern areas of the capital city of Damascus, including the unofficial Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, international media report. As of late April, an estimated 3,500 Palestinian refugees had fled the Yarmouk camp due to the conflict, according to international media. Those remaining in the camp are sheltering in basements with limited access to food, medicine, and safe drinking water, as the UN has been unable to access the camp since 2015.

In April, the SARG and the Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF) reached local agreements with multiple armed opposition groups (AOGs) controlling territories in Homs, Idlib, and Rif Damascus governorates, international media report. The agreements have resulted in the evacuations of opposition fighters, their family members, and additional civilians from these locations to opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo and Idlib governorates. As of May 7, evacuations were ongoing in multiple locations and relief agencies were assisting newly displaced populations in Aleppo and Idlib.

Nearly 2.1 million people were residing in UN-identified besieged and hard-to-reach (HTR) areas of Syria as of April 26, representing a decrease of approximately 12 percent since February. The April figure includes a 97 percent decrease in the population in besieged locations, from nearly 414,000 people to approximately 11,100 people, largely due to the recapturing of Rif Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta region by the SARG, the UN reports. Since March 9, approximately 158,000 people have fled Eastern Ghouta, according to the UN.

Numbers At A Glance

13.1 million

People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria

6.6 million

IDPs in Syria

4 million

People Reached per Month by USG Assistance in Syria

5.6 million

Syrian Refugees in Neighboring Countries

3.6 million

Syrian Refugees in Turkey


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 $1,476,130,642
USAID/FFP $2,686,220,280
State/PRM $3,936,067,451
TOTAL $8,098,418,373


Central and Southern Syria

Since April 19, SARG military operations against ISIS and AOGs in southern Damascus have killed at least 47 people, international media report. SARG aerial bombardments have also destroyed several homes and had rendered a Palestinian Red Crescent-supported hospital—the only hospital in Yarmouk camp—inoperable as of April 23, according to relief agencies. ISIS militants reportedly agreed to surrender ISIS-held areas of Yarmouk camp on April 20; however, attempts to broker the militants’ evacuation from the area failed in the days following, international media report. As of late April, an estimated 3,500 Palestinian refugees had fled the Yarmouk camp due to the conflict; those remaining in the camp are sheltering in basements with limited access to food, medicine, and safe drinking water, according to the UN. The UN has been unable to access the camp since 2015.

On April 30, militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) entered into a local agreement with the SARG, whereby HTS elements agreed to evacuate HTS-controlled areas of Yarmouk camp to northwestern Syria, according to international media. In exchange, HTS agreed to facilitate the evacuation of up to 5,000 people—including opposition fighters and family members—from the AOG-besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib to SARG-held areas in Aleppo. As of May 1, more than 140 people had evacuated HTS-held areas of Yarmouk camp to northwestern Syria, while only 65 people, including five people in need of critical medical treatment, had evacuated Foua and Kefraya to Aleppo, according to the UN.

Similarly, on April 27, AOGs in Rif Damascus’ towns of Babella, Beit Sahm, and Yalda entered into an agreement with the SARG to evacuate 17,000 people from the three towns to northern rural Aleppo, Dar’a, and Idlib governorates, according to a relief agency. As of May 8, more than 8,000 people had evacuated the three towns to Euphrates Shield areas—parts of northern Syria controlled by AOGs affiliated with Government of Turkey (GoT) Euphrates Shield military operations—in northern rural Aleppo, the UN reports.

On April 20, the SARG and GoRF reached a local agreement with AOGs in Atna, Jirud, Mansura, Nasriyeh, and Raheiba towns in Rif Damascus’ eastern Qalamoun region, a relief agency reports. Terms of the agreement include a ceasefire, the disarming of AOGs, and the evacuation of opposition combatants and civilians from the area, according to the relief agency. Between April 20 and 25, more than 6,200 people evacuated from eastern Qalamoun to northern Syria, the UN reports. Local media report that the SARG had declared eastern Qalamoun free of AOG presence as of April 25.

On April 14, SARG military officials announced that remaining fighters of AOG Jaish al-Islam and their family members had evacuated Eastern Ghouta’s town of Douma, effectively declaring the SARG’s recapture of Eastern Ghouta from AOGs. More than 158,000 people had fled Eastern Ghouta—including 92,000 civilians displaced to collective centers in Rif Damascus and 66,000 opposition fighters, their family members, and additional civilians evacuated to northwestern Syria—since March 9, according to the UN.

Northwestern Syria

On May 3, AOGs in northern Homs Governorate reached an agreement with the SARG and GoRF to surrender weapons and evacuate the area to northern Aleppo’s Jarablus town and Idlib, international media report. Since May 7, nearly 6,000 people have evacuated Homs’ Ar Rastan and Talbiseh towns to northern Syria, according to international media.

Operation Olive Branch—the GoT-led military offensive in northwestern Syria—had displaced an estimated 137,000 people from Aleppo’s Afrin District to Aleppo’s Tell Refaat sub-district and Fafin, Nabul, and Zahra towns and surrounding villages as of April 24, according to the UN. As many as 50,000 people remain in Afrin town, while an additional 100,000 people remain in rural areas of Afrin District, the UN reports.

Northeastern Syria

As of April 16, an estimated 100,000 people had returned to Ar Raqqah city since October 2017; however, extensive unexploded ordnance contamination is hampering safe returns and impeding humanitarian response activities in the city, the UN reports. Since October, explosive hazards have killed approximately 130 people and injured nearly 660 others, according to the UN.

Nearly 2.1 million people were residing in UN-identified besieged and HTR areas of Syria as of April 26, representing a decrease of approximately 12 percent—or 283,000 people—since February. The April figure includes a 97 percent decrease in the population in besieged locations, from more than 413,900 people to approximately 11,100 people, largely due to the recapturing Eastern Ghouta by the SARG, the UN reports. As a result, the UN no longer identifies Eastern Ghouta as besieged, but still identifies the region as HTR due to continued cross-line access challenges.

Humanitarian access inside Eastern Ghouta remains limited to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), while commercial access and civilian freedom of movement remain restricted, according to the UN. The SARG had not granted the UN access to conduct multi-sector assessments in the region as of May 11, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports. The UN estimates that 120,000 people remain in Eastern Ghouta; however, population figures are difficult to verify while the UN is physically unable to access the region.

While access to Eastern Ghouta remains restricted, the UN and other relief organizations continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of Eastern Ghouta internally displaced persons (IDPs) hosted at collective centers in Rif Damascus. As of May 1, approximately 44,000 IDPs remained at the sites, while 48,000 people had left the sites under sponsorship arrangements with host communities in surrounding areas, OCHA reports. Since early March, the UN has conducted approximately 22,000 medical consultations and provided more than 513,000 emergency relief items and 77,800 ready-to-eat (RTE) rations to IDPs at the collective centers. UN agencies have also constructed or repaired 1,200 latrines and showers at the sites and repaired shelters benefiting 41,000 IDPs.

On May 2, GoRF and SARG airstrikes struck the specialized Kafr Zita hospital in northern Hamah Governorate, killing one person, wounding three people, and significantly damaging the hospital, according to a health agency. Prior to the latest incident, the health agency reported at least two other airstrikes impacting the hospital between February and April. The hospital provided services to a catchment area of 30,000–40,000 people and was the only hospital in the area that provided primary health care services, according to the agency.

On April 15, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) suspended operations at the Al Ma’ra National Hospital in Idlib’s Ma’araat al-Numan sub-district due to damage sustained from conflict. Armed clashes between HTS and the recently formed Syrian Liberation Front—known as Jabhat Tahrir Souria in Arabic and comprising at least four AOGs—damaged the hospital and destroyed its blood bank, according to SAMS. As a result of the attack, SAMS transferred all of the hospital’s patients to nearby facilities and temporarily suspended operations at the hospital from April 16–17; SAMS also suspended non-emergency services in northern Syria through April 20.

USAID/OFDA partner the UN World Health Organization (WHO) continues to provide emergency health assistance to Eastern Ghouta IDPs sheltering at collective centers in Rif Damascus. From March 15–April 15, WHO screened more than 21,200 children younger than five years of age for acute malnutrition, vaccinated 12,900 children, and delivered nearly 36 metric tons (MT) of health supplies—sufficient for nearly 504,000 medical treatments—to nine collective centers in the governorate. In addition, during this period, WHO provided psychosocial support services to more than 6,400 people at the centers.

As of April 28, health agencies had recorded more than 10,300 suspected cases of measles, including more than 900 confirmed cases, in northern Syria since January, the Early Warning Alert and Response Network reports. WHO anticipates a sustained reduction in the measles caseload beginning in May, when peak transmission season for the disease ends.

Between April 5 and 12, WHO facilitated the delivery of medical supplies sufficient for more than 32,000 medical treatments to Afrin District, in addition to conducting more than 125,000 medical treatments since mid-March. As of April 12, WHO has supported eight mobile medical teams, five mobile clinics, and six health facilities managed by local health authorities and the SARC to respond to the needs of Afrin IDPs. Further, WHO has facilitated more than 46,700 outpatient consultations since mid-March.

State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided winterization assistance to nearly 1.3 million IDPs across Syria between September 2017 and March 2018. These activities included cross-border operations from Jordan and Turkey and focused on providing items for winter relief such as blankets, plastic tarpaulins, and winter clothing. The UN agency prioritized assistance to older people, children, single women, individuals with health issues, and newly displaced persons. UNHCR’s winterization program surpassed its 2017/2018 target of approximately 1.25 million IDPs.

Between mid-March and April 26, USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) provided more than 32,600 RTE rations and 5,000 general food rations, as well as nutrition supplies and fresh bread bundles, to areas surrounding Afrin town and rural areas of Aleppo.

With support from USAID/FFP, an NGO distributed 140 MT of flour to 16 bakeries in Ar Raqqah Governorate in April; the bakeries produce bread serving approximately 200,000 people. The partner also continued to support grain mills in Ar Raqqah during the month, providing wheat to a mill in Ar Raqqah’s Ein Issa District, as well as continuing repairs on a mill in Ar Raqqah’s Tell Abyad sub-district as part of a project to rehabilitate three mills and 10 bakeries in the governorate’s Tabqa and Tell Abyad sub-districts by August.

In northeastern Syria, a USAID/FFP partner distributed more than 7,300 food rations in Aleppo, Dayr az Zawr, and Ar Raqqah governorates to benefit nearly 37,500 people in March. Since October 2017, the partner organization has reached more than 262,000 people in Aleppo, Dayr az Zawr, and Ar Raqqah with food rations. In addition, the partner organization distributed nearly 1,100 food vouchers in March, benefiting nearly 3,600 people in Aleppo and Ar Raqqah.

In March, a USAID/OFDA partner provided nutrition and protection support to vulnerable populations in Dar’a. The NGO provided nutrition education services, including training on infant and young child feeding practices, to more than 2,100 people in the governorate’s Moraba, Mosifra, and Nawa towns. The partner organization also conducted psychosocial support outreach visits and group sessions, reaching approximately 500 people during the month.

In late April, UNHCR commenced preparations to formally register Iraqis living in Al Hol, Newroz, and Roj camps in northeastern Syria’s Al Hasakah Governorate. The registration will provide all Iraqis residing in the three camps who wish to continue seeking UNHCR protection with an identity card to allow for their formal recognition as asylum seekers in Syria. UNHCR has conducted an information sharing campaign to raise awareness of the registration process and plans to commence registration in late May in Newroz, where nearly 1,600 Iraqis are located.

UNHCR provided winterization assistance to Syrian refugees in neighboring countries from September 2017 and March 2018. In Turkey, more than 483,000 Syrian refugees located in camp and non-camp settings received cash assistance, and additional Syrian refugees received heaters. In Lebanon, more than 828,000 Syrian refugees benefited from the winterization program, mainly through cash assistance, as well as the distribution of fuel vouchers, kits to weatherproof shelters, and other relief commodities. In Jordan, UNCHR provided more than $40 million in cash assistance to 235,000 Syrian refugees outside of camps and to 115,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps to address winter needs. The UN agency provided cash assistance to more than 121,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, approximately 30,600 of whom received complementary relief commodities. In Egypt, more than 94,000 Syrian refugees received winter cash assistance

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: May 14, 2018

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