As the Syria crisis enters its seventh year, the magnitude of human suffering remains overwhelming with over 13 million people, including 6 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance. Since March 2011, more than 400 000 Syrians have lost their lives and over one million have been injured. Around 6.1 million people have fled their homes inside Syria and over five million have been forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries. Without a political solution in sight, the conflict is likely to persist in 2018. The EU and its Member States have mobilised more than €10.4 billion since the start of the conflict.
Around 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria. Of these, 6.1 million are internally displaced and almost three million live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas. Civilians continue to be the primary victims of the conflict with children and young people comprising more than half of the displaced population. While a reduction of violence is reported in southern Syria, widespread fighting has continued elsewhere. In 2017, fighting in urban areas such as Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor caused high levels of civilian casualties and massive displacement. Meanwhile, an ongoing offensive in northwestern Syria has hit medical and civilian infrastructure and driven more than 212 000 Syrians from their homes into northern Idlib, which already hosts more than 1.1 million displaced people. In besieged areas in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib Governorate, fighting has continued, resulting in multiple civilian deaths. At the same time, aid convoys have been prevented from delivering assistance to those who need the most help, the elderly, disabled and sick.
Aid workers have been unable to deliver humanitarian assistance in many parts of Syria due to continued fighting along shifting frontlines, bureaucratic hurdles and ongoing violations of international humanitarian law. Protection of civilians remains a serious concern in large parts of Syria. Rape and sexual violence, enforced disappearances, recruitment of child soldiers and forced conscription, executions and deliberate targeting of civilians remain commonplace.
The EU and its Member States are lead providers of international aid to those affected by the Syria war. More than €10.4 billion has been mobilised for humanitarian, stabilisation and resilience assistance to Syrians inside the country and in neighbouring countries. This includes €3.7 billion pledged for 2017 by the EU and its Member States at the Brussels conference in April 2017. To date, millions of people have been reached by EU humanitarian assistance, including healthcare, protection, food, safe drinking water, non-food items, shelter and emergency medical treatment. In 2017, the EU allocated €280 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syria crisis. Another €140 million has been earmarked in 2018 for assistance inside Syria.
Inside Syria, almost half of the EU’s humanitarian assistance goes to immediate life-saving and emergency humanitarian operations; the rest is spent providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, food, child protection activities, and essential items.
In Lebanon, the EU provides cash assistance, secondary healthcare, non-formal education and shelter (including water, hygiene and sanitation) to improve the often abysmal living conditions of displaced families. EU partners regularly monitor the main protection concerns and provide awareness, counselling and legal assistance. Since 2012, the EU’s humanitarian aid to Lebanon has reached around 750 000 Syrians. For 2017, EU humanitarian funding amounted to €85 million with another €80 million planned for 2018.
In Jordan, the EU supports almost 660 000 Syrian refugees, most of them women and children, through cash assistance, protection, health, winterisation response, among other things. In 2017, €55 million of EU humanitarian funding allocated to Jordan also targeted the emergency needs of more than 45 000 refugees stranded along its northeastern border with Syria and Iraq. Another €36 million has been allocated for 2018.
In Egypt, which hosts over 122 000 registered refugees, the EU has allocated €7.8 million to help refugees living in substandard conditions in urban areas through protection, health, education, and cash assistance. An additional €4 million is earmarked for 2018.