Photo : F. Muath / Oxfam

Crisis in Syria: What Oxfam is doing

More than 9 million people have now fled violence in Syria and are in desperate need of shelter, food and water. 2.8 million of them have left Syria and are now refugees in neighboring countries. Half of these are children.

More than three years after the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the scale of the crisis continues to deepen both within and outside Syria, with massive numbers of refugees, who are often living in inadequate shelter, residing in neighboring countries. 9.3 million people are now in need within Syria, almost half of its population.

We have now reached more than 1.3 million people affected by the crisis, across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. With your support we can reach more.

The scale of the Syrian crisis

The humanitarian suffering caused by the crisis is overwhelming. More than 160,000 lives have been lost and more than 2.8 million people have fled to neighboring countries. Refugees are now citing a deteriorating economy and health system as reasons for flight, alongside the violence which continues to escalate across northern Syria and its western border.

  • The UN estimates that more than 9.3 million Syrians are in need of assistance, including 6.5 million internally displaced people.
  • Thousands continue to flee Syria daily.
  • The total number of refugees in neighboring countries is now more than 2.8 million, half of them children.
  • It is estimated that the population of Lebanon has increased by more than 25% and the population of Jordan by 10%. This is putting extreme pressure on local infrastructures and economies.

Additionally, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 80% of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries live in urban areas, outside of formal camp settings. This makes it harder for them to access vital help.

What Oxfam is doing

By June 2014, we had reached more than 1.3 million people with aid.

Abu Mustaffa and his grandson live with their family in an informal settlement, in the Jordan Valley. Oxfam is providing water filters, hygiene kits and hygiene awareness.

Abu Mustaffa and his grandson live with their family in an informal settlement in the Jordan valley, where Oxfam is providing water filters, hygiene kits and hygiene awareness.

In Lebanon

With local partners, Oxfam is helping Syrian and Palestinian refugees arriving from Syria, who have fled the violence in their country. Since rental prices are soaring, we're providing vulnerable families with cash to help them afford safe housing. Thanks to cash or voucher distribution, they can also buy the basics, like food and hygiene products, for their families. We provide water, hygiene kits and help build and maintain sanitation equipment such as latrines and bathing facilities.

Early in the year, we distributed warm clothes, mattresses, blankets, heaters, rugs, kitchen utensils, hygiene kits and plastic sheets for weather proofing.

In Jordan

We're working in Zaatari refugee camp - providing people with access to water and sanitation, and coordinating hygiene training to prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases.

Outside Zaatari, we are also working with the vulnerable refugees who are living in informal settlements – mainly tents – and communities in the Balqa district; to provide monetary support. We are supporting families in host communities with cash to help them pay their rent. ATM cards have been given to refugees so they can withdraw the money themselves. Hygiene products are also being distributed as well as water filters to ensure people have safe water to drink.

In Syria

Since mid-July 2013, Oxfam has had an office inside Syria, responding alongside other agencies to the urgent need for clean water. An estimated 35% of water treatment plants in Syria have been damaged during the conflict and there are concerns over water contamination.

We have brought two water treatment plants back on-line using multiple truck-sized generators, capable of continuously pumping more than 700,000 extra liters of water per hour - enough to deliver safe water to around 500,000 people in Damascus city and the surrounding province. These generators are the first of 18 to be installed.

Photos of our shipment of 20 tons of water equipment to Syria.

There remain serious access and security challenges to working in Syria. Nonetheless, we are exploring all methods by which to immediately and effectively assist civilians across Syria, and those Syrians in urgent humanitarian need in Lebanon, Jordan and other neighboring countries.


Helping the millions of victims of this terrible conflict is absolutely vital but not enough. What is needed is peace. For the past three years, we have been campaigning and advocating for a sustainable, inclusive, political solution. During this process, we are asking for an immediate cease-fire. We ask that all parties to the conflict to stop any arms transfer and guarantee humanitarian access.

 Updated 19 June 2014


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