The Syrian crisis, now in its eighth year has not only resulted in immense human suffering and infrastructural damage but has also set back development gains in Syria by decades. The crisis has impacted the entire sub-region in multiple ways and continues to threaten development and stability in neighboring countries, especially those hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.
In Syria, UNDP works through the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and leads the Early Recovery and Livelihoods Cluster, with programming focused on livelihood support, basic services, and local-level infrastructure-rehabilitation projects
The scale and protracted nature of the Syrian crisis have galvanized an international consensus that this is not only a political and a humanitarian crisis, but also a development crisis. There has been mutual agreement amongst stakeholders that a humanitarian response alone in this context will not suffice and can run the risk of being unsustainable and unaffordable.
The conflict and the influx of large numbers of Syrian refugees slowed down sub-regional trade and the economies of hosting countries, creating tremendous challenges especially on the delivery of basic social services. The fact that more than 90 per cent of Syrian refugees do not live in camps but live amongst host communities in urban, semi-urban and rural areas compelled the international community to take on a more developmental approach to managing and solving the effects of the crisis, since traditional humanitarian organizations were not used to responding to crises outside of camp contexts. In host communities across the region, overburdened municipal services, price increases in rent and cost of living, and growing social tensions were witnessed.
As a result, UNDP works to ensure that humanitarian interventions are complemented with a development response centered on building the resilience of refugees, host communities, and national systems.
Establishing a Facility to ensure the integration of a robust development response to the Syria crisis
After recognizing the development implications of the crisis, UNDP established the Sub-Regional Response Facility (UNDP-SRF) in 2013 to support and coordinate resilience efforts amongst the Country Offices in the five most affected countries – Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt.
The Facility has succeeded in bridging the gap between humanitarian assistance and sustainable human development through introducing the resilience-based development approach and ensuring a common regional response to the crisis through the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan which UNDP co-leads with UNHCR, under the UNHCR-UNDP Joint Regional Secretariat.
The SRF also plays a vital role in supporting UNDP Country Offices as well as national, regional and international partners shift towards more robust resilience policies, practices and capacities.