Entering a 13th year of crisis, 7 in 10 Syrians require humanitarian assistance. Already struggling to recover from conflict, displacement, COVID-19 and a cholera epidemic, millions of people’s lives were again shattered by the February earthquake.
Half the population is displaced, either inside Syria or outside, and humanitarian needs in the country are at an all-time high. As the leading donor of humanitarian aid to Syrians, the EU and its Member States have provided continued humanitarian funding since the start of the conflict.
What are the needs?
When the earthquake struck on 6 February, devastating parts of Syria, the scale of humanitarian needs in the country was already unprecedented. Some 15.3 million Syrians of a population of 21.3 million already required humanitarian assistance.
According to the 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview:
- 85% of households cannot meet their basic needs
- more than half the population lacks a stable source of water
- more than 12 million people face food shortages
Moreover, after 12 years of conflict and destruction, less than 60% of health facilities are fully functional. In addition, more than 2 million children remain out of school.
The crisis and conflict have resulted in mass displacement, widespread poverty and destruction, economic recession, and the spread of preventable diseases. There are currently over 5.4 million registered Syrian refugees in the region, mostly in Türkiye, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Parts of Syria most impacted by the earthquakes are also those where massive humanitarian needs prevail, particularly in non-government controlled areas in Northwest Syria.
Until 6 February, only 1 border crossing was open for UN agencies to transport aid from Tϋrkiye to Syria, as authorised by a UN Security Council resolution that expires every 6 months. A week later, 2 other border crossings were temporarily opened to help speed up the aid effort.
How are we helping?
Despite many challenges, the EU has continued to provide impartial humanitarian aid to those in need across Syria since 2011. The EU and its Member States are leading international aid donors to those affected by the multidimensional crisis in Syria.
Over the past 12 years, the EU has mobilised more than €27.4 billion in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance. It has supported Syrians both inside the country and across the region.
This includes more than €3.7 billion in humanitarian aid to Syrians and vulnerable host communities inside Syria and the region, including close to €1.4 billion for Syria alone. Since 2017, the EU also organises a yearly Brussels conference to support the future of Syria and the region to encourage pledges.
In 2022, the European Commission mobilised €150.7 million in humanitarian aid to assist millions of people inside Syria. Throughout 2022, responding to emergencies such as a cholera outbreak and food insecurity, the EU stepped up its humanitarian support and funding.
EU humanitarian aid in Syria focuses primarily on addressing critical needs. It also promotes sustainable life-saving assistance or early recovery by improving access to basic services for an increasingly deprived population.
The assistance is channelled through our humanitarian partners, who provide the most vulnerable with shelter, health care, food assistance, livelihoods support, water, sanitation and hygiene services, psychosocial support, education, and protection.
Response to the earthquake
In the wake of the February earthquake, humanitarian partners on the ground provided emergency response. Among other things, they (i) conducted search and rescue operations; (ii) provided tents, blankets, hygiene, cooking and other essential household items to the homeless; and (iii) supplied health facilities with medicines.
The Commission mobilised €75 million in humanitarian assistance for the earthquake response in government and non-government controlled areas. The funding supported the search and rescue operations and is helping those affected by the earthquakes with shelter, water and sanitation services, health care, and basic needs.
The EU also sent supplies from the European Humanitarian Response Capacity warehouses in Brindisi and Dubai to support the aid efforts throughout the country.
In addition to humanitarian aid, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated 2 days after the earthquake. Relief from 16 European countries was trucked in via Tϋrkiye and Lebanon to government and non-government controlled areas.
The EU closely cooperates with all its humanitarian partners across the country: NGOs, UN agencies and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. They adhere to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
The EU has repeatedly called for the respect of international humanitarian law. It continuously urges parties to the conflict to allow unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to people in need.
We also fund humanitarian aid in countries in the region – Tϋrkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt – which host around 5.4 million registered Syrian refugees together.
Last updated: 20/03/2023
Facts & figures
15.3 million people in need in 2023
8.8 million people affected by the February earthquakes
More than 6.6 million internally displaced
Over 5.4 million registered Syrian refugees in the region, mostly in Türkiye (3.5 million), Lebanon (814,000), Jordan (661,000)
(sources: OCHA, IOM, UNHCR Feb. 2023)
Total assistance by the EU and its Member States to the Syria crisis:
more than €27.4 billion since 2011.
EU humanitarian funding inside Syria:
€150.7 million in 2022
€75 million for earthquake response in 2023