Snow blizzards in makeshift camp, Jordan. Photo: Ruba Saqr/Oxfam

Crisis in Syria: What Oxfam is doing

More than 2.5 million people have now fled violence in Syria and are in desperate need of shelter, food and water. Half of them are children.

Three years on, 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 900,000 people affected by the crisis, across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. With your support we can reach more.

Syria peace talks

Thank you to the more than 100,000 people in over 150 countries around the world, who signed the joint agency petition in support of Syria peace talks. The talks have not yet delivered genuine progress on humanitarian assistance to the staggering numbers of Syrians in need, despite some initial promising signs. We are calling for a third round of peace talks to be convened. What is needed urgently is a real commitment to halting the violence on the ground.

Parties to the conflict should use the momentum of recent diplomatic agreements to push for a ceasefire. All countries must cease providing weapons that fuel the violence.

The scale of the Syrian crisis

The humanitarian suffering caused by the crisis is overwhelming. More than 100,000 lives have been lost and more than 2.5 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.
  • Thousands continue to flee Syria daily.
  • The total number of refugees in neighboring countries is now more than 2.5 million, half of them are children.
  • It is estimated that the population of Lebanon has increased by more than 25% and the population of Jordan by 6%. This is putting extreme pressure on local infrastructure.

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

Distribution of blankets to refugees from Syria, in Lebanon, by Association Najdeh

Towards the end of February 2014, we had reached more than 900,000 people with aid.

In Lebanon

Oxfam is helping Palestinian refugees arriving from Syria and Syrian refugees 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, and also buy the basics for their families. We're consulting the inhabitants and local landowners over the siting and installation of water and sanitation facilities, to ensure people have access to safe sources of drinking water.

New survey: Debt levels spiraling out of control as refugees from Syria slip further into poverty

We are also working with a local NGO, Najdeh, to provide psycho-social support to women refugees living in Palestinian camps.

Early in the year, we worked with our local partners to distribute warm clothes, mattresses, blankets, heaters, rugs, kitchen utensils, hygiene kits and plastic sheets for weather proofing.

In Jordan

We're working in Za'atari refugee camp - providing people with access to water and sanitation, and coordinating hygiene training to prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases. We have reached some 20,000 Syrian refugees with emergency latrines and are handing over recently completed shower, toilet and laundry blocks to reach 8,000.

Outside Zaatari, we are also working with the vulnerable refugees who are living in informal settlements – mainly tents – and communities in Balqa district to provide cash support. We have now started supporting families in host communities through 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

At the end of November the number of people we reached with aid in our Syria response increased dramatically following the installation of two truck-sized generators to power two water treatment plants in Damascus city and the greater Damascus province. In partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources and the local water boards, we are now delivering safe, clean water to more than 500,000 people.

The generators are the first two of 18 to be installed, and are powering plants connected to two springs that have been supplying Syrians with water since ancient times. The new power generation enables the huge water processing plants to treat and pump more than 700,000 additional liters of water per hour uninterrupted from power outages. In line with Sphere standards, for every hour the generators are running, close to 50,000 people will have access to the minimum quantity of 15 liters per person per day.

Photos of our recent 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.

Updated 11 March 2014.


Take Action: Stand with Syria on March 13th

Blog: Syria's refugees: Surviving through the kindness of strangers

New survey: Debt levels spiraling out of control as refugees from Syria slip further into poverty

Infographic: How the Syria crisis is affecting more than one million people

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