Humanitarian assistance for the people in Syria: Urgently needed, but not easy to deliver

Distribution of goods by the World Food Programme in Syria

Distribution of goods by the World Food Programme in Syria, © WFP / Ghazwan Jabasini

12.05.2023 - Article

In hardly any other country in the world is it as difficult to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to people in need as it is in Syria. Germany is committed to reaching everyone who needs assistance. But what challenges are there?

For over a decade, the people in Syria have been suffering due to the conflict. The impact is devastating: more than 300,000 people have died, while more than half of the Syrian population have had to leave their homes. The earthquakes in February exacerbated the suffering of many Syrians and took over 6000 lives. According to the United Nations, around 15 million people in the country require humanitarian assistance, which is more than the population of Germany’s 15 largest cities put together. The Federal Government has been providing support to the people in Syria and the neighbouring countries affected by the conflict for years. Following the earthquakes, the Federal Government pledged an additional 238 million euro in assistance for those in Turkey and Syria affected by the disaster.

However, providing humanitarian assistance to all those in need in Syria remains a challenge. Why?

Humanitarian assistance with challenges

A syrian mother is picking up goods by the World Food Programme for her family
A syrian mother is picking up goods by the World Food Programme for her family© WFP / Hussam Al Saleh

The conflict, which has been ongoing since 2011, has divided the country into areas controlled by various groups, including the Assad regime, opposition groups, rebels and Kurdish fighters. Almost seven million people throughout the country are considered internally displaced persons. Transporting relief supplies across the lines of conflict within Syria is only possible in rare cases. Germany is working to ensure that everything possible is done to reach people in need, regardless of what area they are in. This includes keeping major border crossing points open. Assistance from Turkey to northern Syria is particularly important. These cross-border supplies are crucial for the four million people in the north-west of the country. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) alone reaches up to 1.4 million people every month. Last year, Germany was the WFP’s biggest donor in Syria.

Humanitarian coordination meeting in Berlin

Meals for victims of the earth quakes in Syria (Spring 2023)
Meals for victims of the earth quakes in Syria (Spring 2023)© WFP / Hussam Al Saleh

The Federal Foreign Office, together with the European Commission, is hosting a coordination meeting in Berlin this week. The focus of the meeting is on how to provide even better humanitarian assistance to those in need throughout the entire country as part of the Whole of Syria response. The coordination meeting also serves as preparation for the Seventh Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region, which will take place in Brussels on 14 and 15 June. That conference will also focus on the UN-led political process and the situation in the neighbouring countries particularly affected by the Syrian refugee crisis, namely Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.


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