European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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© CARE, 2020

After a decade of war, Syria’s crisis is marked by unparalleled suffering and needs. The country counts more than 6.7 million internally displaced people, the largest number worldwide. Another 5.6 million Syrians have fled across borders.

A ceasefire in March 2020 has not prevented frontline hostilities in Idlib and north Aleppo, where the humanitarian situation remains alarming. With only half of health facilities fully functioning and increasing economic hardship, a surge in COVID-19 cases is worrying. The EU continues to be a major donor to Syrians in need.

What are the needs?

The humanitarian situation in Syria is very concerning, with around 13.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. According to the World Food Programme, 12.4 million people – nearly 60% of the population – are facing food shortages.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the increasing vulnerability of families and pushed another 1.4 million people into food insecurity. The Syrian crisis is characterised by a lack of protection and continued violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Around 3.5 million people need humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria, most of them internally displaced people (IDPs). The majority of the 2.7 million IDPs in this area have had to flee fighting multiple times and are extremely dependent on humanitarian aid. The UN Security Council resolution on cross-border assistance from Turkey offers a vital lifeline that needs to be maintained.

Shelter, health care, food, water, sanitation, education and protection remain urgent needs, especially in the north. However, a collapsing economy affecting the country has left millions of internally displaced people, who recently returned home, struggling to meet their most basic needs. Although aid is essential, restrictions and bureaucratic impediments continue to hamper the work of humanitarian organisations.

How are we helping?

The EU and its Member States are the leading donors of international aid towards those affected by war in Syria. Since the start of the crisis in 2011, more than €24.9 billion has been mobilised to support the most vulnerable Syrians inside the country and across the region.

The EU has organised, during 5 consecutive years (2017-2021), a conference supporting the future of Syria and the region, which is also the main pledging event for the Syria crisis.

In 2021, the European Commission alone mobilised €130 million in humanitarian aid to provide vital assistance to millions of people inside Syria. The Commission also supports Syrians in neighbouring countries hosting refugees such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

In light of numerous attacks on civilians, hospitals, and schools during the past decade, the EU has continuously urged all parties to the conflict to allow unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to people in need. It has also repeatedly called for the respect of international humanitarian law.

Inside Syria, EU humanitarian assistance is channelled through over 40 humanitarian partners working countrywide where is most needed. They are providing Syrians with (i) health services; (ii) food assistance; (iii) shelter; (iv) water, sanitation and hygiene; (v) psychosocial support; (vi) essential household items; (vii) education; and (viii) protection.

Humanitarian organisations operate in very challenging circumstances, obstructed by insecurity and continued access constraints. They strictly adhere to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

The EU also funds humanitarian aid in countries within the region – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt – which combined host more than 5.6 million registered Syrian refugees.

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