Responding to the crisis in Syria

Women preserving eggplant harvest in Hama, Syria in 2015.

Eight years since the start of the conflict, heavy fighting and years of neglect have left behind massive destruction of infrastructure, erosion of the productive base and damage to the social fabric in Syria.

Syria continues to be characterized by destruction to almost every aspect of life and livelihoods, including massive devastation of homes, businesses, basic services and infrastructure. Estimates from 2015 point to more than 83% of Syrians living below the poverty line - all indications suggest more impoverishment since then. This is particularly critical for youth and raises the specter of negative coping mechanisms due to diminished livelihoods prospects.

Over 11.8 million people inside Syria continue to require humanitarian aid and 6 million remain displaced. Meanwhile, some 1.4 million IDPs have also returned to areas of origin, mostly in Aleppo, Homs and rural Damascus.

Together UN agencies, funds and programmes work with donors, NGO partners and the private sector to save lives, enhance protection and build resilience in response to this protracted crisis.

Refugees in neighboring countries have grown increasingly vulnerable, with the vast majority living below the poverty line. Neighboring countries have shown tremendous generosity in hosting over 5.8 million refugees – with pressures on social services and infrastructure, on jobs, and, most alarmingly, on social cohesion growing by the day.

In 2018, UNDP reached over 2,888,000 people in the affected population inside Syria (111,270 directly, and 2,776,000 indirectly).

What does UNDP do in Syria?

At UNDP we lead on supporting vulnerable communities through local development programmes that help build resilience as this crisis continues to threaten every aspect of well-being.

Inside Syria, UNDP focuses on local projects to create emergency jobs, support livelihoods and restore critical community infrastructure for all Syrians, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable, including woman-headed households and youth. This support helps build community resilience and improve the living conditions of both internally displaced and host communities inside Syria, which in turn allows humanitarian support to have a stronger impact on people’s lives.

What does UNDP do in neighbouring countries?

In countries neighbouring Syria, UNDP supports highly-strained and vulnerable host communities to cope with the influx of refugees by improving infrastructure, and boosting local economic and employment opportunities. We especially focus on vulnerable groups, such as young people, those with disabilities and women.

Within the frame of this response, in 2018 UNDP Lebanon supported over 850,000 host community members and refugees with access to basic services, improved livelihoods and peacebuilding in 124 vulnerable localities, creating over 43,000 days of work.

In Jordan, 2.7 million people comprising hosts and refugees benefitted from UNDP’s support for improved municipal infrastructure and services, and 41,000 people benefitted from improved livelihoods and job creation.

UNDP’s work in Turkey has improved municipal services for over 2.5 million Syrians and host community members while supporting over 50,000 Syrians to improve their Turkish-language skills.

In Egypt, host communities and refugees have benefitted from interventions in waste management and 160,000 workdays were created in vulnerable communities.

In Iraq, an estimated 4.1 million internally displaced Iraqis had returned or resettled, while an additional 1.8 million people remain displaced in December 2018.

UNDP’s development approach focuses on building resilience and ensuring that communities not only recover from the crisis but also improve the longer-term, sustainable development prospects needed to move toward a lasting peace.

UNDP is committed to providing the very best support we can to help governments and host communities in the region build resilience in the face of one of the world’s most pressing crisis. Support our programme to ensure a sustainable response to a protracted crisis.

Our stories

UNDP in Syria
Defending the Orontes: A community effort to restore a city lifeline

A resilience project in Syria has put together team to clean up the Orontes, picking up garbage along the river banks and surrounding gardens and replanting trees and agricultural crops. more 

UNDP in Syria
The resilient women of Syria

As part of its Early Recovery and Resilience Programme in Syria, UNDP supports an initiative to provide job opportunities in the field of plumbing to a number of IDPs and host community members in Tartous. more 

UNDP in Syria


UNDP in Jordan
Emergency jobs sow long-term livelihoods for youth in Jordan

Nineteen-year-old Aya is one of 750 youth who have completed training through the 3x6 Emergency Employment Project, part of UNDP's regional response to the crisis in Syria. more 

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