A syrian woman stands on a balcony of a building in ruins

A woman stands on her balcony in the El Khalideh neighbourhood in Homs. ©UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

The ongoing humanitarian emergency in Syria

As the crisis in Syria enters its ninth year, the need for life-saving essentials in the conflict-ravaged country remains immense — and urgent.

An estimated 13.5 million need humanitarian assistance — including 6.6 million people who are internally displaced. Vulnerabilities caused by displacement, exposure to hostilities and limited access to basic goods and services have placed some five million Syrians in acute need of aid.

No other country on Earth has more individuals forcibly displaced from their homes than Syria. It remains the main country of origin of refugees, comprising 25 per cent of all refugees worldwide.

Syrians have found safe refuge in countries all over the world — including Canada. But neighbouring countries in the Middle East and North Africa including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have welcomed and hosted the overwhelming majority of Syrians forced to flee their homeland. Yet this generosity has also presented a fresh set of financial challenges for some host communities, such as putting a strain on basic social services. Compounding the crisis was the escalation of hostilities in northern Syria in late 2019, which saw the sudden exodus of tens of thousands of children, women and men to northern Iraq.

Within Syria, shifting from an emergency response to longer-term durable solutions remains a key priority for UNHCR. Syrians are returning to the country despite the ongoing challenges, and UNHCR seeks to work with its partners to provide support to returnees. This includes community-based protection, shelter repair, legal aid and documentation, primary health care and education.

The humanitarian needs of the Syrian people are vast in scale, scope and magnitude. The task ahead for UNHCR and partner organizations supporting them is far from complete. But in the stories that follow, the strength and the determination of the Syrian people seeking better lives within and beyond their homeland remains ever-present. Learn more about a few of these incredible individuals and how UNHCR is continuing to support them

What UNHCR is doing

  • Providing items such as thermal blankets, extra plastic sheeting, winter clothes and sleeping bags to help support Syrian refugee families during the winter
  • Providing cash assistance to help Syrian refugees meet their needs with dignity
  • Assisting Syrian refugee families by providing child protection and identifying unaccompanied children
  • Working closely with governments and partners to improve conditions in host communities, as well as to provide first aid, support and protection


Map of Syria and surrounding countries with key stats about Syrian displacement


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