Syria Complex Emergency - Fact Sheet #10 FY18

Speeches Shim

August 20, 2018

As many as 184,000 people remain displaced in southwestern Syria following SARG, GoRF military offensive

Conflict in Syria kills 55 aid workers during the first half of 2018

11.2 million Syrians require emergency food assistance

Nearly 7,000 people evacuated Idlib’s Foah and Kafraya towns

The Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) regained control of southwestern Syria in late July following a military offensive against armed opposition groups (AOGs) and militant groups in the region. Military operations continued to kill civilians and resulted in additional displacement throughout July, and up to 184,000 people remained displaced in southwestern Syria as of August 1, the UN reports. Humanitarian organizations also report limited access to vulnerable populations in the region following the offensive.

From January–June 2018, conflict killed 55 aid workers in Syria, representing the highest number of aid workers killed during the first half of the year in any country experiencing protracted conflict, according to the USAID-funded Danger in Aid project.

As of June 2018, approximately 11.2 million people in Syria required emergency food assistance, an increase of 700,000 people since November 2017, according to the Food Security Sector (FSS)—the coordinating body for humanitarian food security activities, comprising UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders. Populations residing in Ar Raqqah Governorate experienced the most significant increase in food assistance needs between November 2017 and June 2018, increasing by more than 100 percent.

On July 25, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) elements detonated improvised explosive devices and launched attacks in several towns in As Suwayda’ Governorate, killing at least 240 people and injuring 170 others, relief agencies report.

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

3.5 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 $1,573,549,824
USAID/FFP $2,748,108,494
State/PRM $4,315,467,451
TOTAL $8,637,125,769


Conflict in Syria killed at least 886 civilians during July, contributing to a total of 5,645 civilian deaths since the start of 2018, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR). SARG and Government of the Russian Federation (GoRF) military operations killed 4,144 people during that time period, SNHR reports. The organization reported the highest number of deaths during July in Dar’a Governorate, followed by Homs Governorate and suburbs of the city of Damascus.

Central and Southern Syria

The SARG military offensive in southwestern Syria continued in late July, with airstrikes, bombardments, and ground attacks killing civilians and displacing additional populations, according to relief organizations. As of July 31, the SARG had regained control of all of southwestern Syria, including Quneitra Governorate and southwestern Dar’a’s Yarmouk Basin, which was previously held by the ISIS-affiliated militant group Jaysh Khaled Ibn Al Waleed. According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, conflict in the Yarmouk Basin had killed at least 42 civilians, including 11 children and five women, as of July 26. Military operations in southwestern Syria during July also damaged schools and rendered several hospitals inoperable, according to humanitarian organizations.

As many as 184,000 people remained displaced in the region as of August 1, the UN reports. In addition, more than 10,500 people evacuated Dar’a and Quneitra to AOG-held areas of northwestern Syria from July 15–August 11.

On July 29, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released the Southern Syria Operational Response Plan to provide life-saving assistance to as many as 325,000 people affected by the recent escalation in military operations in southwestern Syria. The 90-day plan, which does not request additional funding beyond the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, highlights a requirement of $84.8 million to respond to humanitarian needs, including access to safe drinking water, emergency food assistance, health care services, and shelter support.

On July 25, ISIS elements detonated up to six separate improvised explosive devices and launched attacks in several towns in northeastern As Suwayda’ Governorate and the city of As Suwayda’, killing at least 240 people and injuring 170 others, according to relief agencies. Security conditions in As Suwayda’ had been relatively stable in recent years; the incident represents the deadliest attack in the governorate since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011.

Northwestern Syria

On July 19, following an agreement between militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the SARG, approximately 6,900 people evacuated from Idlib Governorate’s formerly UN-identified besieged towns of Foah and Kafraya to SARG-held areas of Aleppo Governorate, the UN reports. The towns were the last UN-identified besieged areas in Syria.

Humanitarian needs remain high among host community members and approximately 1.3–1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in AOG-held areas of Aleppo, Hamah, and Idlib governorates, according to a May REACH Initiative assessment. The displaced population represents approximately 40 percent of the region’s total population of 3.3 million people. In nearly 80 percent of assessed communities, IDPs reportedly resorted to negative coping strategies—including selling assets and skipping meals—due to lack of food, according to the assessment. Shelter for IDPs residing in the region represents another critical concern, with 210,000 IDPs living in overcrowded shelters primarily in Aleppo’s Atareb sub-district and Idlib’s Dana and Salqin sub-districts as of late May. In addition, approximately 70 percent of communities surveyed indicated a general lack of employment opportunities. Nearly 25 percent of assessed communities also reported lack of access to permanent health care services, and more than 50 percent of communities reported no access to a functioning water network.

Between January 1 and July 28, the UN recorded more than 487,000 primary and secondary displacements in northern Hamah, Idlib, and western Aleppo, including instances of evacuation from southern Syria. Relief organizations continue to respond to emergency needs among displaced populations in the region.

A potential SARG military offensive in Idlib could displace more than 700,000 people in Aleppo and Idlib, according to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster. Additionally, the UN and other relief organizations anticipate that a military offensive in Idlib would exacerbate existing humanitarian needs. In response, the UN released a northwest Syria response plan, outlining the humanitarian consequences of a military offensive on northwestern Syria.

Northeastern Syria

Poor conditions and movement restrictions at IDP sites in northeastern Syria could prompt some displaced populations to return to areas of origin, although conditions for safe and dignified returns do not yet exist in many areas, the UN reports. Explosive hazard contamination continues to represent a primary risk to populations returning to Ar Raqqah city. However, approximately 147,000 people returned to Ar Raqqah city between October 2017 and mid-July, primarily to areas of the city with restored services and infrastructure, the UN reports. In addition, an estimated 198,000 people returned to Dayr az Zawr city between November 2017 and mid-July, according to the UN. As of July 1, more than 119,000 people remained at IDP sites throughout northeastern Syria.

In June, SARG and GoRF airstrikes and shelling in Dar’a, Hamah, and Idlib killed at least five Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) rescuers—also known as White Helmets—and destroyed several SCD centers, according to the Danger in Aid project. On July 22, the Government of Israel evacuated 422 SCD rescuers and family members from Syria to Jordan, international media report. The rescuers will remain in Jordan while the UN assists in relocating the staff members and their families to Canada, Germany, and the UK for resettlement. UN agencies and relief organizations continue to call for the protection of humanitarian staff working to save lives in Syria.

Relief organizations operating in southwestern Syria report significantly decreased access to populations in need following the recent SARG offensive. In addition, many NGOs providing life-saving assistance in the region were dissolved as a result of the change in territorial control, the UN reports. However, despite challenges, UN agencies continue to work with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to provide assistance to vulnerable people in southwestern Syria, where possible. On August 5, the International Committee of the Red Cross, SARC, and the UN provided humanitarian assistance—including emergency food, health, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) support—to households in the Yarmouk Basin. The UN continues to advocate immediate and unimpeded access to populations in need throughout the region, particularly in Quneitra. Cross-border assistance from Jordan has remained suspended since the start of the SARG offensive in southwestern Syria.

On July 19, a UN and SARC interagency convoy delivered food, health, nutrition, and WASH supplies for approximately 19,500 people in the UN-identified hard-to-reach town of Beit Jan and surrounding areas in Rif Damascus Governorate, the UN reports. The convoy represents the first to reach the formerly besieged area since 2013.

As of June, approximately 11.2 million people in Syria required emergency food assistance. The number represents an increase of 700,000 people since November 2017, when an estimated 10.5 million people required food assistance. The total includes 6.7 million food-insecure people and 4.5 million people at risk of becoming food insecure—an increase from 6.5 million food-insecure people and 4 million people at risk of food insecurity in November 2017. According to the FSS, military offensives, large-scale population displacement and returns, and shifting lines of control since November 2017 have contributed to increased food assistance needs.

Populations residing in Ar Raqqah experienced the most significant increase in food assistance needs between November 2017 and June 2018, increasing by 106 percent, and corresponding with an overall population increase of 98 percent. Aleppo continues to host the largest food-insecure population—approximately 2.3 million people— followed by Idlib and Rif Damascus, which each host 1.6 million people in need of food assistance, according to the FSS.

In July, USAID/FFP partner the UN World Food Program (WFP) delivered food assistance to more than 3 million people—reaching 97 percent of the planned 3.1 million people—in all 14 Syrian governorates through regular incountry distributions, cross-border operations from Turkey, and four inter-agency convoys.

During July, SARG Ministry of Health staff—with support from U.S. Government (USG) partners the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN World Health Organization (WHO)—conducted more than 14,000 medical consultations for populations in areas of Dar’a recently recaptured by the SARG. During the month, WHO also delivered at least 50 metric tons of medical supplies to the SARC and SARG health officials in Dar’a and As Suwayda’ to support needs arising from recent military operations.

From January 1–July 20, WHO reported approximately 1,630 suspected typhoid fever cases in Al Hasakah Governorate’s Al Hol camp. Although the number of suspected cases had declined since late March, health agencies began reporting an increasing typhoid fever caseload in mid-June. In response to suspected typhoid cases, WHO and local health organizations recently distributed WASH commodities, provided health care services, and investigated water sources for potential contamination.

Approximately 850 Syrian refugees returned from Lebanon to Syria on July 23 and approximately 140 returned on August 13, local media report. The returns represent part of continuing coordination between Lebanon’s General Security Office and the SARG. As of July 31, more than 976,000 Syrian refugees registered with State/PRM partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were residing in Lebanon.

From July 20–21, UNHCR conducted a survey among Syrian refugees residing in Jordan to evaluate individuals’ intentions to return to Syria. Approximately 5 percent of surveyed individuals expressed an intention to return to Syria during the next 12 months, UNHCR reports. More than 90 percent did not express an intention to return during the next 12 months, primarily due to insecurity, lack of housing, and limited livelihood opportunities, while approximately 5 percent remained undecided.

WFP and UNHCR recently began a six-month targeting and verification exercise—the Joint Vulnerability Assessment—of Syrian refugee households residing in camps in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). Through the exercise, the UN agencies seek to identify the most vulnerable households and assess needs of Syrian refugees in the region. Although WFP programs currently assist approximately 65 percent of Syrian refugees in the IKR, preliminary findings from the exercise indicate that only 7 percent of the surveyed population is food-insecure. WFP and UNHCR plan to conclude the vulnerability assessment in January 2019.

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: September 05, 2018

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