The crisis in Syria is very complex, and the humanitarian needs are great, in Syria as well as in the neighbouring countries. Since the situation keeps changing, Sida's support to the region is flexible in order to let our partner organisations use the support where it is needed the most. Issues of protection and humanitarian law are central to our involvement.
The war in Syria is a full-scale civil war. The crisis is characterised by increasing violence and repeated crimes against international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and attacks on medical centres are on the increase. The international community and aid organisations have difficulty gaining access to affected areas. Almost 3.9 million people are in inaccessible areas, and 975,000 people live under siege without any access to relief.
The conflict has resulted in the largest refugee crisis in the world. According to the UN, more than 4.8 million registered refugees have fled abroad, most of them to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and 6.3 million are now internally displaced.
As the crisis becomes more prolonged, people's own resources and resilience weaken. This has led to an increase in harmful survival methods, such as interrupting the schooling of their children, having them work or marrying them off. Gender-based violence is common.
Sida's humanitarian assistance to the crisis amounted to SEK 423 million in 2016. Just over 60 per cent of the support is used within Syria for life-saving interventions and protective programmes for the most vulnerable. The remaining part is used to support refugees in the neighbouring countries, where Sida supports efforts both for refugees and in the host communities that have been placed under a lot of pressure.
The support is channelled through UN agencies, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations. Sida's support is flexible so that it can be used to meet the needs of a changing context. We prioritise work to promote humanitarian rights and to protect civilians, especially those most vulnerable, such as refugees, women and children.
In order to reach those most in need of aid, it is important to work for increased access to the affected areas and to coordinate the assistance efficiently. Sida supports the UN's humanitarian coordination through OCHA and UNHCR.
In a context where access for international organisations is becoming increasingly difficult, it is important to build the capacity of the national humanitarian actors. The UN Emergency Response Funds channel swift and flexible financing covering unexpected needs to national and local organisations in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as international organisations to some extent. Sweden is one of the biggest donors to these funds. Through Sida's Rapid Response Mechanism our partner organisations may apply for rapid means in order to cover needs that suddenly arise.
Since 2016, Sweden has also had a regional development strategy for the Syria crisis. An important part of Sida's work will therefore be to ensure that humanitarian and development assistance complement and support each other in the best possible way. You can read more here about Sida's work to strengthen the resilience and recovery capacity of vulnerable groups in Syria.
Some examples of Sida's support in Syria
The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF: Sida's non-earmarked support to UNICEF can be used flexibly to cover the most acute needs. For example, children are immunised against polio and measles. Money can also go to temporary schools, work against malnourishment and to psychosocial support for children. UNICEF is also engaged in the work for a functioning system of water conduits in Syria and in refugee camps.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): The support for NFC is an example of support for non-governmental organisations. Sida supports NRC's work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, a large proportion of whom live in poor conditions in local host communities where they are often exposed to discrimination. The support is used to give vulnerable refugee families access to more favourable rental apartments and to legal information and assistance.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNWRA: About one third of the UNWRA camps in Syria can no longer be used and the situation is acute for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Those who have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries also live in vulnerable conditions. With support from Sida and other agencies, UNWRA provides Palestinian refugees, hit by the war in Syria, with cash support to cover their most basic needs. UNWRA also works with healthcare, education and water and sanitation.