About the crisis
People living across northwest Syria are some of the most vulnerable in the country. Many of them have repeatedly experienced shocks since late 2019, due to the impact of increasing hostilities, extreme weather conditions, displacements, and other challenges. This response follows the displacement of some 400,000 people in north-west Syria. Many have been displaced multiple times, with each new movement introducing new risks and intensifying existing vulnerabilities. Daily artillery and aerial bombardments perpetuate the unstable security situation in north-west Syria, endangering civilian lives and affecting infrastructure, including IDP camps, schools, health centres and hospitals.
Compounding the dire situation are adverse winter weather including heavy rainfall, as well as sharp devaluation of the Syrian Pound, which is driving increasing unaffordability of essential goods and services. As of 31 January 2020, there are an estimated 280,000 civilians remaining in areas around the M4 and M5 highways who are at imminent risk of displacement if ongoing military operations continue.
The multi-layered context necessitates different forms of humanitarian assistance, from frontline emergency support to assistance for sustainably increasing the self-reliance of people in affected communities. To deliver effective humanitarian assistance meeting the diversity of needs and the rapidly changing situation in north-west Syria, humanitarian partners require the flexibility to swiftly adapt their operations as new developments arise.
The Dutch Relief Alliance response
Overall priorities are protection of civilians, safe reception centres and shelters in and out of camps insulated from weather conditions, alongside appropriate WASH facilities, and emergency services including non-food items, heating, food and healthcare.
- Health: Health facilities have been unable to provide services, and mobile teams and Primary Health Centres have been moved to assist newly-displaced IDPs. The population is showing high levels of psychosocial distress. Security risks for humanitarian workers have prevented access to vulnerable populations. In total, 49 health facilities reported that they suspended or stopped services. Five of these facilities are now located in GCA. Only 15 facilities reported resuming their activities to the cluster.
- Protection: The continued shelling and airstrikes put the lives of women, men, girls and boys at risk every day. The violence continued to significantly impact psychosocial well-being and cause high levels of trauma. Multiple displacements and the lack of access to basic services further exacerbate individuals’ and communities’ needs, increasing the risk of death, injury, disability, gender-based violence (GBV) and trauma, particularly among children. Protection is the principal requirement of affected populations as the armed violence continues unabated.
- Shelter: Shelter assistance continues to be critical compounded by the harsh weather conditions. New
and previous displacements continue to require the provision of emergency shelters as well as
alternative shelter solutions where possible. The large number of displacements is severely
exacerbating shelter and accommodation shortages across northwest Syria.
- WASH: Some 300,000 people are in need of a comprehensive WASH response due to recent
displacements. Inadequate space in existing shelters complicates the response, as recently displaced people keep moving from one location to another. Challenges in access to many locations, especially camps, due to muddy roads because of rains and security risks due to ongoing military operations. This prevents service providers from entering the camps and other targeted locations.
- Multi-purpose Cash Assistance: MPCA is one of the most urgent needs to increase
resilience and access to basic needs (such as food, medicine and NFIs). The Dutch Relief Alliance response features multi-purpose cash grants to a total of 1,320 newly displaced households (7,100 people), enabling them to address their urgent basic needs. The value of the cash grant is aligned with the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) guidelines for NW Syria.
Photo credit: Violet Organization