Refugee children standing in a camp


Syria’s ongoing conflict has shattered the country’s infrastructure, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.

Millions of communities in Syria are internally displaced.  Many families have fled to countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Iraqi Kurdistan, putting immense strain on these neighbouring countries.

In March 2019, the United States and the Kurdish militias declared victory over the Islamic State. The demilitarisation campaign in the northwest (Idlib) which began in 2018 continued, but remains unsolved. As a result, many families endured more open fighting in the first half of the year, causing mass displacement in Syria.

The Turkish offensive, which took place in the second half of 2019 in the northeast of the country, led to the creation of a “safe zone” along the border. This situation forced more communities into displacement, greatly affecting the supply of basic needs.

Although the violence has reduced overall, conflict is still ongoing in certain part of the country – making it hard for our teams to access some of the most vulnerable communities.

Country facts

  • 16.9m

    Syria has a population of almost 17 million people.

  • 154

    The country is 154th out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index.

  • 5.6m

    There are an estimated 5.6 million Syrian refugees living in neighbouring countries.

The impact of Covid-19 in Syria

The main challenge in the country is the lack of available testing, making it difficult to understand the full scale of the spread of the virus.

Syria’s healthcare system is not prepared to deal with a pandemic of this scale. A shortage of healthcare workers, hospital beds, basic medical equipment, and personal protective equipment, make responding to the virus even harder.

The living conditions of many individuals and communities, especially those living in densely populated refugee camps and villages, and the lack of regular access to safe and clean water heightens the risk of contracting the disease should the virus spread to vulnerable areas.

Sanctions, which impose restrictions on the import of certain medical supplies critical for effectively responding to Covid-19, are also a cause for concern.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Syria

We’ve been working in Syria since 2008, providing life-saving care to vulnerable communities who have endured years of conflict. Significant changes in the context, as well as the push at regional level for the return of refugees to Syria, mean that our programmes are balancing between emergency responses and facilitating access to shelter.

We are:

  • distributing fodder, warm clothing, food and safe water
  • providing shelter
  • facilitating health and water services
  • raising awareness around hygiene measures

We’ve also introduced health and nutrition programmes following a collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

Our reach

  • 1,350,694

    We reached 1,350,694 people through our programmes in Syria in 2019.

  • 114

    We have 114 staff based in Damascus, Hassakeh and Aleppo.

  • 2008

    We started working in Syria in 2008.

Our response to Covid-19 in Syria

Our top priorities in Syria include protecting healthcare workers, by offering training on Covid-19 management and personal protective equipment. We’re also ensuring proper case management, including isolation and contact tracing, is being carried out.

How we’re helping:

  • rehabilitating water points to provide access to safe water
  • distributing hygiene kits and food parcels
  • delivering personal protective equipment
  • facilitating psychological first aid training to healthcare workers
  • supporting the training of healthcare workers on Covid-19 surveillance
Olfat Mohamed, an Action Against Hunger Water and Sanitation team member speaking to Syrian refugees in a camp

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A Syrian refugee girl in Lebanon.

The Syrian crisis continues to generate political, social and economic pressure in Lebanon.


A girl supported by Action Against Hunger in Iraq.

Millions of people who have had to flee their homes in Iraq still need humanitarian assistance.