Recent UN Report Highlights Dire Situation in Syria

Credit: (OCHA/Bilal Al-Hammoud)

 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Syria has reported a significant increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, reaching an estimated 16.7 million by the end of 2023. This figure, the highest since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, underscores the severe humanitarian crisis gripping the country.

The report, issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), details the deteriorating conditions in Syria throughout 2023. A series of devastating earthquakes on February 6 and February 20 exacerbated the already dire situation, resulting in the deaths of 5,900 people and injuries to 12,800 others. These natural disasters further displaced communities and damaged infrastructure, compounding the challenges faced by millions of Syrians.

“The earthquakes added to the already critical situation, with families losing their livelihoods and becoming even more vulnerable,” the report stated. The combination of ongoing conflict, economic instability, and natural disasters has led to widespread poverty, malnutrition, and an increased dependency on humanitarian aid. Severe inflation has also driven up the cost of aid, making it more difficult for relief organizations to meet basic needs.

The Syrian conflict, which has persisted for over a decade, continues to devastate the country. Insecurity in various regions, particularly northwestern Syria, has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians in 2023, most due to ongoing attacks by Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. Additionally, the Syrian regime’s bombardment of this region has caused further displacement and destruction of civilian infrastructure, hindering humanitarian access.

The report highlights that an estimated 90 percent of Syria’s population now lives in poverty, with 12.9 million people suffering from food insecurity. The number of those in need of humanitarian assistance has risen by 1.4 million since 2022. Syria continues to host one of the world’s largest populations of internally displaced persons (IDPs), currently at 7.25 million.

Despite the challenges, UNHCR has continued its efforts to address the growing needs. In 2023, it verified or monitored the return of more than 38,000 refugees from neighboring countries, though this figure represents a 25 percent decrease compared to 2022. Additionally, approximately 155,000 IDPs returned to their places of origin between January and July 2023.

To cope with dwindling resources and the demands of earthquake response, the UN office has bolstered its core activities, focusing on protection, shelter, and non-food items, while also increasing monetary interventions.

The international community faces a formidable challenge in addressing the escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria. The UN’s call for continued and enhanced support is critical to alleviating the suffering of millions of Syrians caught in this protracted conflict and disaster-stricken landscape.


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