Syrian Refugee Crisis

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Together, we can bring hope to millions of Syrian refugees.

Daily horrors, devastation and upheavals at an unimaginable scale makes Syria the largest humanitarian emergency of our era.

In its eighth year of brutal and bitter war, Syria is in ruins. Thousands are on the run from a nightmare that seems to have no end. Millions of internally displaced people (IDPs) are trapped inside Syria, experiencing dire conditions. Millions of other Syrian refugees have overwhelmed neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt – their numbers and needs intensify daily.

UNHCR is coordinating a massive refugee response throughout the region and leading efforts to protect and provide shelter for those displaced inside Syria—working across borders to provide critical aid under extremely dangerous circumstances.

In 2018, 161,533 families received winterization items such as high thermal blankets, extra plastic sheeting, winter clothes kits and sleeping bags thanks to the generosity of donors. 

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What is life like under siege in Aleppo, Syria?

Syrians refugees who’ve fled their homes in search of safety in neighbouring countries

people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria

men, women and children are displaced by violence inside of Syria

How You Can Help

Your support funds vital humanitarian work in Syria. Whether giving critical emergency aid, providing temporary shelter, rebuilding lives at home or offering education and vocational training, your donation helps refugees to live with autonomy, dignity, and hope.

UNHCR is funded by direct, voluntary contributions and our donors enable us to help refugees all over the world.

Taking Action

  • In winter 2018, 788,339 Syrians received winterization items such as high thermal blankets, extra plastic sheeting, winter clothes kits and sleeping bags
  • The 2018-2019 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), led by UNHCR, will support over 5 million refugees in neighbouring countries and four million in the communities hosting them.
  • The 2017 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan will provide humanitarian support and protection to 13.5 million people inside Syria

Together, we can make a difference.

“Syria is the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, a continuing cause of suffering for millions which should be garnering a groundswell of support around the world.”  – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Help us deliver emergency aid to Syrian Refugees

Millions of Syrian refugees are struggling to survive, with no end in sight to the crisis. With your help and support, we can save lives today.

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Life in Syria

Those left behind in Syria are often struggling to survive as they face daily hardships and the looming threat of violence. Millions have been trapped in besieged cities, turned away from closed borders, or cut off from escape routes by regional outbreaks of violence.

The UN estimates that 13.5 million Syrian civilians are living in extreme poverty and are in desperate need of humanitarian aid (from the UN Syrian Arab Republic Humanitarian Response Plan).

Unemployment has skyrocketed, prices of staples like bread and milk have more than doubled in the past year, and access to basic necessities is often impossible. In order to survive, some communities have resorted to extreme measures such as drinking unsafe water and eating grass.

UNHCR in Syria

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. UNHCR Canada plays a vital role supporting this work in Syria and worldwide.

In 2017, UNHCR provided vital aid to Syrian refugees and IDPs including building life-saving shelter and the distribution of food, water, and basic necessities in dangerous conflict zones.

UNHCR has the largest humanitarian presence on the ground in Syria and works with more than 200 partners. Where possible, we work with governments and local organizations to empower and support refugees and citizens. Together, we deliver emergency aid, protect the rights and well-being of internally displaced persons, and help civilians to build a better future.

With your support, we can continue this vital work.

Child Refugees & Internally Displaced Children

The Syrian conflict is now in its seventh year with no end in sight. 

Child refugees are one of the most vulnerable and isolated groups in the world. In a recent study, the UN found that nearly 30% of the Syrian children they interviewed went outside their homes—often a crammed apartment or a makeshift shelter—just once a week or less. Many have been wounded physically, psychologically, or both; they are experiencing homelessness, hardship and death at an extremely vulnerable age.

Thanks to the efforts of host countries, UNHCR and international partners and donors, there has been positive progress in access to basic education for Syrian refugees. However, many have missed months or years of learning and thousands are still not in school.  

“The world must act to save a generation of traumatised, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe. If we do not move quickly, this generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war.”  – Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy

Syrian refugees are women and children


are under 12 years old


are under 18 years old

Syrian refugee children have never known anything but war

Life for Syrian Refugees

War and human rights abuses have forced over 5.6 million peoplemostly women and childrento flee their homes in Syria. Families have left everything behind to make the dangerous journey to safety.

Neighbouring countries are doing everything they can to provide shelter and assistance for those in need, but refugees face mounting difficulties in accessing food, housing, medical care, and other basic needs for their families.

  • There are over 3.5 million refugees in Turkey alone. Employment opportunities are limited, and many have exhausted their savings and are struggling to survive in overcrowded camps and cities.
  • In Jordan, 93% of refugees fall below the national poverty line. Many families cannot access basic nutrition: only 20% of households report eating fruit at least once per week. 

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria

Internally displaced persons (or IDPs) are people forced to flee their homes who have remained in their own country. In Syria, at least 6.6 million people have been displacedthe highest number in the world. As conflict spreads in Syria, many internally displaced families will be forced to flee multiple times.

Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons are not protected under international law, making them one of the world’s most vulnerable groups. UNHCR has a mandate to protect IDPs and provides essential support for the families, women, and children who remain behind in Syria.

Some refugees and IDPs are also stateless. Because they do not have an official nationality, they are unable to access basic services like healthcare or employment in the country where they live. UNHCR is committed to protecting and supporting stateless people in Syria and worldwide.

“Finding out that there are people out there who are willing to help is what truly gave me the willpower to go on. Now I am optimistic for a better future for my children.” – Momena, Syrian hairdresser mother of three, living in Damascus.

You Can Make A Difference

Help UNHCR Canada to respond to the Syrian crisis with life-saving aid, safeguard the fundamental human rights of refugees, and build a better future.

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Syrian Refugee Camps

A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to house refugees. Over half a million Syrian refugees live in camps, the largest of which is the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. It hosts nearly 100 000 refugees, the majority of whom are women and children.

After seven years of conflict, refugee camps have become home to thousands of Syrian families. Help UNHCR to supply camps with basic necessities like healthcare services, sanitation, and education.

Women in Refugee Camps

Despite near constant struggle, women lead one of every four refugee households and are holding their families together against all odds. Learn more about the extraordinary strength of Syria’s refugee women in Woman Alone: The Fight for Survival by Syria’s Refugee Women.

Alternative to Camps

Refugee camps often serve as a focal point for aid and international attention. However, they are a temporary solution.

Outside of camps, millions of Syrian refugees have settled on land or in housing that they own, rent, or occupy informally in rural and urban areas. UNHCR supports these alternatives to camps as they allow refugees the possibility to gain self-sufficiency and live with greater dignity, independence and normality as members of the local community.

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“They [women] have run out of money, face daily threats to their safety and are being treated as outcasts.” – António Guterres, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees.



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