• Crisis Severity ?
    4.3
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    4.3
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    4.5
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    3.8
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    3.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 24,033,000 People affected [?]
  • 13,743,000 People displaced [?]
  • 15,927,000 People in Need [?]

Overview

03/07/2019

As the Syrian civil war has entered its 8th year, Syrians in- and outside the country continue to face severe humanitarian conditions. The Syrian regional crisis represents one of the largest displacement crises in the world.? Since the conflict started in 2011, an estimated 7,8 million refugees have left the country and sought shelter mostly in neighbouring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon as well as in Iraq and Egypt.? Many of the refugees have now been in their host countries for many years and have an increasingly vulnerable position facing protection concerns and high rates of poverty. Inside Syria, some 6.2 million people are internally displaced.?

Regionally, close to 16 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance. Needs in conflict-affected Syria remain dire. Millions are dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.? When only looking at the refugee population, some 4.2 million are in need. Syrian needs across the region include protection, access to health services and livelihood assistance. In Lebanon and Jordan, about 20% of the Syrians are residing in refugee settlements, and in Iraq, 38%. In Turkey and Egypt the vast majority of Syrian refugees live in urban centres.?

Across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, around 75.2% of the Syrians hope to eventually return to Syria.? However, the majority are not intending to do so in the near future. Although tensions with host communities have been increasing, family reunification and work opportunities rank higher as reasons for return.

Latest Developments

30/07/2019

30/07 Syria: Dire conditions, severe food shortages and lack of medical care have driven thousands of people to leave Rukban camp in the last couple of months. Reports estimate the current population to be 11,000 compared to a U.N. estimate of 41,000 in February. People in the camp are reportedly experiencing severe malnutrition as humanitarian access remains severely restricted. Rukban, located in a demilitarised zone on the border between Syria, Jordan and Iraq, hosts IDPs who fled airstrikes in eastern Homes three years ago. People who leave the camp undergo a security screening by Syrian government forces raising the risk of arrest for those who are perceived to be part of the opposition. ? 

25/07 Turkey: Approximately 1000 Syrians have been deported from Turkey to Syria following a recent government crackdown on unregistered refugees and those accused of entering Turkey illegally or committing a crime. Many of the deportees have reportedly been transported to the Turkey-Syria border near Idlib. Refugees and migrants of other nationalities, including Afghans, have also been detained by Turkish authorities, though it is unclear whether they will be deported to their countries of origin. Public opinion in Turkey towards Syrian refugees has been hardening since Turkey’s recent local elections, which featured prominent anti-Syrian rhetoric, and in the context of Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis. In late June in Istanbul, a number of Syrians and Syrian-owned businesses were targeted by mob violence which has raised concerns about their safety.?

02/07 Lebanon: The Lebanese army demolished at least 20 refugee homes in three settlements in Arsal on 1 July, following the decision by Lebanon's Higher Defense Council to take down all "semi-permanent structures" built by Syrian refugees using materials other than timber and plastic sheeting. While the number of refugees currently living in such structures is unclear, thousands of families are likely to be affected by the decision. The developments come amid heightening tensions between the Syrian refugee population and the Lebanese host community. ?

25/06 Syria: An escalation in fighting in northern Hama, southern Idleb and rural areas of Aleppo displaced at least 330,000 people. The impact on civilians, infrastructure and fields has been devastating; at least three IDP settlements, one refugee camp, 37 schools and 26 health facilities have been affected by a new wave of barrel bomb attacks and artillery strikes. The civilian death toll continues to rise and has likely surpassed 300 people. Access is severely limited, and needs persist across all sectors (especially protection, food, shelter, health and WASH). ? 

11/06 Syria: Multiple fires have destroyed some 400 square kilometres of farmland in the conflict-affected northwest since 10 May. Wheat and barley crops have been burned, severely affecting the already strained food security and livelihood situation in the region. The large-scale crop burning is also expected to have adverse effects on the health of civilians, many of whom are already struggling with respiratory diseases. The cause of the fires is thought to be intentional in some cases and collateral damage of the conflict in others. ?

 

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.

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