Crisis in Syria
12.4M Syrians are desperate for food and peace. Now COVID-19 risks pushing them to the absolute limit.
Since violence first erupted in 2011, the crisis in Syria has become one of the most complicated operations for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). More than 6.7 million people are displaced inside the country, many of whom now live in squalid, overcrowded camps.
The price of basic commodities has increased by 222% since this time last year, and COVID-19 will only worsen the situation. Citizens are in desperate need of food and shelter, and WFP is working around the clock to scale up and save lives.
The proportion of the population that lives in extreme poverty
The number of people who are displaced every day
The number of children out of school due to COVID-19 closures
Ten Years of War
After a decade of conflict, the situation is the worst it's ever been. 12.4 million Syrians are hungry, and 6.7 million people are displaced within their country's borders. With the number of COVID-19 cases and food prices rising, families are struggling to survive each day. In January, WFP reached nearly 5 million people with lifesaving food, and ramped up support for vulnerable mothers and children.Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa
With 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Syria is hoping to avoid catastrophe. With its tattered infrastructure, nearly non-existent health care system and rampant violence, an outbreak there would be devastating. Meanwhile, the cost of a standard food basket - one month of staple food items for a family – went up by 111 percent compared to the same month in 2019.Photo: WFP/Jessica Lawson
Escalating levels of conflict displaced nearly one million people across Northwest Syria starting in early December. It was the largest wave of displacement in nearly nine years of conflict. More than 80 percent of the displaced were women and children. In February, WFP scaled up its work in the area to reach 626,000 people with monthly food rations and another 487,000 newly displaced people with ready-to-eat rations that can feed a family of five for one week.
Conflict in Northern Syria erupts when Turkish airstrikes destroy hospitals, schools and other public infrastructure. The violence forces more than 176,000 people - 74,000 of which are children - to flee their homes. To save themselves, many escape on foot with only what they can carry. WFP delivers emergency five-day food rations to 83,000 people in the north and is scaling up to reach a total of 580,000 there each month.Photo: WFP/Marwa Awad
Recent fighting in northwest Syria has forced nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes towards northern Idlib, aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in camps where more than 300,000 displaced people are now living. WFP assists more than 3 million people every month.Photo: WFP/Marwa Awad
The fall of Raqqa and the departure of ISIS.Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh
The United States launches a military strike on a Syrian government airbase in response to a second chemical weapon attack on civilians.
The fall of Aleppo after hundreds of government airstrikes leaves the city of roughly 4.6 million people in ruins.
The Arab Spring protests erupt and the Syrian civil war begins, pitting the Assad government against the rebels.Photo: OCHA/Josephine Guerrero
More than 50 percent of the country’s population has been displaced and nearly 5 million people rely on WFP every month for their basic needs.
- 11.1M people need humanitarian assistance
- 12.4M people don't know where their next meal is coming from
- $398.5M needed to fund relief efforts through August 2021
Meeting the Challenge
The United World Food Programme overcomes daunting obstacles to feed Syrian families and refugees across the region. Smart, innovative solutions include iris scans, truck convoys, bakeries and greenhouses.
Cash, vouchers and e-cards can be lost, stolen, or forged, putting recipients at risk. This technology allows Syrian refugees to safely purchase food from camp supermarkets using a scan of their eye instead.
WFP’s trucks reach hungry families in need, carrying more than 1 million pounds of lifesaving food. The trucks carry large bags of food, nutritional supplements and other supplies to hard-to-reach communities.
Bread is a staple food and a powerful cultural symbol in Syria. When bakeries inside eastern Aleppo were destroyed in conflict, WFP provided bundles of bread to nearly 12,000 displaced people.
Greenhouses are being rebuilt and farmers have been provided with tomato seeds and irrigation kits, as well as with food rations to get through the lean season before their tomato harvests are complete.
Because of these efforts, the U.N. World Food Programme feeds more than 4.5 million people inside Syria and 1.5 million Syrian refugees each month.
Nahi works for a WFP partner organization in northwest Syria helping hundreds of thousands of people who've been forced from their homes.Read Nahi's story +
Majed Abdulraheem fled to Jordan in 2013, where he received food vouchers from WFP. Today he's a chef in Washington, DC.Read Majed's story +
Shadia was eight years old when a bomb hit her house, leaving her with extensive scarring. Her family now lives in a refugee camp in Idlib.Read Shadia's story +
Help us realize a future beyond emergency assistance where our help is no longer needed.
Let’s build people’s knowledge, skills and resilience. Let’s invest in economic opportunities and sustainable food systems so that all Syrian families can get the nutrition they need to reach their full potential.