• Crisis Severity ?
    4.8
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    4.4
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    5.0
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    4.7
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    5.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 14,914,000 Total population [?]
  • 13,925,000 People affected [?]
  • 12,995,000 People displaced [?]
  • 11,708,000 People in Need [?]

Overview

06/11/2019

At least 220,000 civilians have died as a result of conflict since the civil war began in 2011.? An estimated 11.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. ?6.2 million are internally displaced and 6.8 million refugees have left the country, mostly to neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. ?

The humanitarian needs in Syria are severe across all sectors, with health, shelter, and food needs most critical in areas where fighting continues including governorates in the northwest and northeast of the country. Protection interventions are required countrywide. Access for humanitarians remains extremely problematic, even in areas retaken by the Syrian Arab Army ?.

Since late 2015, the Syrian Arab army have been slowly regaining territory across the country. With only governorates in the northeast and northwest remaining outside government control, the war is widely seen as entering its final and possibly most violent stages. Turkish, Russian, Iranian, American, and Syrian troops are stationed inside Syria, as well as a range of non-state armed groups ranging from more moderate opposition groups to Salafist Jihadi groups.

Latest Developments

07/11/2019

07/11: Despite recent ceasefire agreements, sporadic clashes between Turkish-backed armed forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue in different locations across Hasakeh and Raqqa governorates in northeast Syria. Since 6 November, fighting intensified in the Ain Issa area in Raqqa governorate. Turkish-backed forces have taken control of several villages, despite support from Syrian regime forces to the SDF. Joint Russian-Turkish patrols started on 1 November indicating that the terms of the Sochi agreement of 22 October, that stipulated the removal of SDF troops from a planned buffer zone along the Turkish/Syrian border, continue to be implemented.?

07/11: A military campaign launched by Turkey into the Kurdish-held territory in the northeast on 9 October, has had a severe impact on the civilian population in the area. Airstrikes and ground attacks have killed and injured hundreds of civilians. Despite a decrease in fighting since the implementation of a ceasefire, over 108,000 people remain displaced across Hasakeh, Raqqa and Aleppo governorates where towns are overwhelmed by the influx and services are overstretched. Of the more than 106,000 returned, 40% have returned to areas now under the control of Turkish Armed Forces. While the majority of the displaced are residing in host communities, some 16,700 IDPs are staying in schools serving as collective shelters. Infrastructure, including a water station severing over 460,000 people in Hasakeh city and surrounding areas, has been severely damaged. Increased food prices, restricted food supply and a disrupted planting season as a result of the clashes are likely to further strain the already dire food security situation in the region. The people living in northeast Syria have experienced multiple displacements, surrounding cities where people are likely to flee are heavily contaminated with mines and lack basic services, and IDP camps in the area are already overstretched due to years of conflict. Humanitarian operations are severely hampered by fighting, disrupted supply chains of humanitarian goods, and shifts in territorial control.  ?

Humanitarian Access

30/10/2019

Extreme Constraints 

Humanitarian access remains severely constrained in Syria amid ongoing conflict, even in areas retaken by the government. Escalated fighting in opposition-held territory in the northwest since April 2019, and a military operation by Turkish Armed Forces into the SDF-controlled northeast since October 2019 has resulted in the suspension of humanitarian operations. Local humanitarian staff have been displaced and international staff have been evacuated around the frontlines. Health workers and other humanitarian actors continue to be impacted by shelling, airstrikes, and small arms fire. High presence of unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war, ongoing insecurity in government-held and SDF-controlled areas, and administrative challenges, including irregular cross border authorizations, hinder humanitarian operations. Access to the 12,700 people in need in the Rukban makeshift settlement at the Jordanian border continues to be restricted. 

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

 

Full-scale offensive on northwest Syria leads to displacement of millions, a high number of civilian casualties, and severe humanitarian needs

Latest update: 21/06/2019

Probability

Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely

Impact

Very low Moderate Major

A full-scale offensive on opposition-held northwest Syria is looming, following conflict escalation between the Government of Syria (GoS) and opposition forces. Fighting in southern Idleb and northern Hama governorates intensified in January and has further escalated since April, when regime forces launched a series of barrel bomb attacks and artillery strikes on essential infrastructure, aiming to regain control over strategic points?. Fighting increased despite the de-escalation deal between Turkey and Russia that declared the region a demilitarised zone since September 2018.

An all-out escalation of conflict in the northwest has been anticipated since 2017, following evacuation deals between the GoS and opposition forces and civilians perceived to be opposition supporters, resulting in the transfer of large groups of people to Idleb and surrounding area. The GoS has been clear about wanting to retake the area at the earliest opportunity. A full-scale assault, however, would require a political decision supported by Russia, whose support largely depends on how this would impact their relations with Turkey. Turkey backs the opposition forces of The National Liberation Front (NLF) and wants to avoid a full-scale offensive close to its borders. Turkey and Russia’s relationship has been strained by the recent conflict escalation. Russia allowed the GoS to attack Idleb and Hama without waiting for agreement with Turkey. Turkey then delivered weapons to opposition forces.? Recent attacks from the GoS on Turkish military posts in Idleb are likely to increase tensions.? Further advancement from government forces into Idleb without diplomatic coordination between Russia and Turkey may trigger Turkey to increase support to opposition. In such a scenario, the GoS would likely further intensify its own operations. While there is a risk of this situation materialising, the probability of a full-scale Russian-backed offensive in the next six months is low. Such an operation would be militarily costly and draw unwanted attention to Russia’s role in Syria. It is probable that Russia and Turkey seek to sustain their relationship and the conflict de-escalates after the GoS takes control over strategic targets.

Impact

A full-scale offensive on the northwest of Syria would have disastrous humanitarian consequences. The recent surge in violence displaced over 270,000 people in May, killed hundreds of civilians, and caused severe needs for healthcare, shelter, food, and protection. Airstrikes have targeted schools, medical facilities and busy places such as markets. Widespread displacement has placed further strain on camps. Many of the newly displaced are without shelter, living in open fields or under trees exposed to the elements. The conflict has destroyed vital food crops in the region, worsening food insecurity. Attacks against humanitarian responders and the ongoing fighting have severely restricted humanitarian access. Most aid activities in the conflict zones have been suspended. ?

Over 3.5 million people are living in the northwest, including 1.3 million existing IDPs, almost all of whom have existing humanitarian needs that would be severely compounded in the event of an escalation. ? Further escalation in conflict would cause a staggering loss of civilian life and drive millions to the Turkish border. It is unclear whether Syrians would be able to cross the border. If entry to Turkey becomes impossible, multi-sectoral humanitarian needs would likely build along the border and overwhelm response capacity. Pre-existing vulnerabilities and reducing coping capacities following eight years of war in Syria would exacerbate the humanitarian situation.

This risk was identified in the June Quarterly Risk Analysis report.

Read this risk

Conflict in northwest

02/08/2019

Conflict between the Government of Syria (GoS) and armed opposition groups has intensified since the beginning of 2019, and escalated since 28 April in northwest Syria, causing widespread displacement. Waves of barrel bomb attacks and artillery strikes have hit houses, schools, medical facilities, markets and IDP camps in northern rural Hama, southern Idleb and western Aleppo. Military operations have caused a high number of civilian casualties. The humanitarian situation in the affected governorates is deteriorating, with ongoing clashes, airstrikes, and shelling restricting the humanitarian access. The majority of IDPs live in makeshift settlements and report acute multi-sectoral needs. The northwestern region was declared a demilitarised zone under a deal between Turkey and Russia in September 2018 which aimed to avert a government assault on the area. The Syrian government has stepped up their attacks in an attempt to regain strategic points. The regime and its allies have claimed they have been targeting extremist groups in the area. ?

Key Priorities

23/05/2019

Protection: 13.2 million people, including 4.1 million children, are estimated in need of protection assistance. ?

6.2 million people need acute WASH-assistance. ?

Health: 13.2 million people require health assistance. The conflict has significantly damaged health facilities. Fuel shortages further hamper access to health services. ?