After more than two years, the conflict in Syria has spread across the country. Fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups continues to escalate, with both sides increasingly making use of heavy weaponry in populated areas. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic and continues to deteriorate.
The United Nations estimates that 6.8 million people – almost one-third of the population – are in need of aid in Syria. An estimated 4.25 million people have been driven from their homes, and more than 1.86 million registered refugees have fled into neighbouring countries. The UN estimates that at least 100,000 people have been killed.
“Conflict in Syria has forced over four million people have been driven from their homes. Many are in urgent need of food, water and shelter.”
The war has caused widespread food shortages, disrupted water supplies, healthcare and other basic services, and prevented hundreds of thousands of people from being able to make a living. Refugees arriving in neighbouring countries often require places to stay, food, blankets, household items and counselling to help them cope with trauma.
Because of the fighting, it is difficult to deliver humanitarian aid in many parts of Syria. Some of the main humanitarian needs include:
Food: Because of blockades, sanctions, a lack of fuel, and large-scale displacement, food is difficult to access in many areas. In areas where it is available, prices have soared.
Healthcare: Access to health services is a major problem and there are severe shortages of medicines. Many hospitals have been destroyed or damaged because of the fighting, and the functioning ones are over-crowded. The lack of safe drinking water and sanitation has led to an increase in waterborne disease.
Shelter: many people who have been forced from their homes remain in need of adequate shelter and support. At present, an estimated 6,000 people are fleeing into neighbouring countries every day, and the camps and communities near the borders in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are struggling to cope. The number of Syrians registered or awaiting registration exceeds 1.8 million – and the actual number of refugees may be far higher.
Employment: The war has left the Syrian economy in tatters, and many people no longer have the means to make a living. Poorer families have been particularly badly affected.
Protection for the most vulnerable: There has been an increase in reported human rights violations, including indiscriminate bombing of towns and cities, kidnappings, torture of prisoners, rape and sexual assault. There have also been reports of children being recruited into armed forces.
“Please pray for the people of Syria. Your support will really make a difference. Thank you.”
CAFOD is supporting trusted Church partners in Syria, who are providing food parcels, medical aid and relief supplies, and helping people to find safe places to stay. We are one of only a handful of UK aid agencies able to work in Syria. The extensive community networks of the Church, even as a minority faith, mean that it is well placed to provide aid in some of the worst hit and most inaccessible areas of the country. The many aid workers, priests and volunteers we support are operating at great risk to their own safety.
We are also working in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan to ensure that newly arrived refugees have food, medical support, clothes and safe places to stay.
Thanks to the immense generosity of our supporters, the CAFOD emergency appeal has so far raised more than £1.8 million, much of this was spent providing emergency support to refugees fleeing the violence. In East Anglia we have raised over £100,000 this year.
This update shows the difference we are making with the help of our Caritas partners.