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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
26 April 2024

Syria: 13 years of war

A man standing close to a wood burner. Several items are hanging at the surrounding walls.
© People in Need (photographer: M. N. Şağar)

After 13 years of devastating conflict and a powerful earthquake that struck in 2023, 14 million Syrians were forced to abandon their homes and continue struggling to keep afloat amid frequent military operations, the increasing costs of living and a lack of access to basic services like education, healthcare and water. 

Since 2011, the European Union has provided €1.4 billion in humanitarian funding to International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO) and UN agencies to reach those in need across Syria. 

People in Need (PIN) is among the recipients of EU funding and has supported the most vulnerable Syrians for over a decade. Since 2012, the EU has allocated more than €56.5 million to PIN to provide cash assistance and guarantee displaced children receive an education.

A family at the entrance of their shelter tent.
After 13 years of war, 7.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, forced to live in harsh conditions. 16.7 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, struggling to survive amid conflict, rising living costs and decreased global humanitarian funding.
© People in Need (photographer: M.Moustafa)
An elderly couple in front of a shelter tent which stands in front of their damaged building.
“Syria may not be in the top news, but the conflict rages on and humanitarian needs are very high,” says Luigi Pandolfi, EU humanitarian aid head of office in Syria. “Despite many challenges, we continue to support the most vulnerable Syrians.”
© European Union, 2023
Ahmad sitting on his bed.
Ahmad, 79, once ran a grocery store. In the last 13 years he has been displaced multiple times and underwent 9 surgeries, losing a leg and parts of his hand. He is among the over 71,000 people who received EU funded cash assistance in northern Syria.
© People in Need (photographer: M.Moustafa)
Muhammad standing in his kitchen.
Muhammad, 87, has been living in a camp since he lost his home 6 years ago. His disabled son often requires hospital visits. Thanks to EU funding, PIN provided him with cash assistance to meet his most urgent needs.
© People in Need (photographer: M. Moustafa)
Muna sitting in her house with on the right her mother and on the left her 2 children.
Living through instability encapsulates the condition of millions of Syrians. Muna, 29, has lost 2 husbands to the war and is responsible for 2 children and her elderly and ill mother. She received cash assistance, but still struggles to make ends meet.
© People in Need (photographer: M. Moustafa)
Amina standing in front of her house. The window is made out of plastic sheets.
Amina and her 5 children have been first displaced by an airstrike that destroyed their home and killed her husband. When the earthquake struck in 2023, they had to flee again. PIN provided her with EU funded food vouchers.
© People in Need (photographer: M. Moustafa)
A child wearing a red dress walking in a street.
13 years of war took a heavy toll on children, severely restricting their access to education and undermining their future. 2.5 million children in Syria are completely out of school and 1 million more are at risk of dropping out.
© European Union, 2024
2 children sitting at a desk in a school.
In northwest Syria, 1 million children are out of school. Nearly 60% of camps and sites for internally displaced people lack schools or education centres. PIN, with funding from the European Union, built a school for more than 500 children.
© People in Need (photographer: P. Štefan)
Children playing a game outside their school.
War and displacement leave deep scars. 1.8 million children in northwest Syria need psychosocial support and protection from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Providing them with an education supports a better outcome for future generations.
© People in Need (photographer: P. Štefan)
A girl washing her hands with water from a tap in a colourful tiled wall.
Trucked water is the primary source of water for 64% of residents of internally displaced sites. Building water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities within schools for informal education is vital to make these environments truly safe.
© People in Need (photographer: P. Štefan)
Children inside a tent.
"It is crucial to help children in Syria to transition from non-formal education into high-quality formal primary and secondary education and provide them with the possibility to break the cycle of poverty and aid dependence," says Tomas Kocian, PIN.
© People in Need (photographer: Z. Mayladan)
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Story by People in Need with contribution from Daniele Pagani, Regional Information Officer for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Publication date: 26/04/2024