Catastrophic Humanitarian Situation due to Years of Conflict

Civil War in Syria

Main sector
Humanitarian Assistance
Kerstin Bandsom Team Communications

Millions of people in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq have been affected by the war in Syria and by the effects of the so-called Islamic State’s (IS) rule. Peaceful protests in 2011 quickly led to a brutal war. Almost half of the entire Syrian population was displaced by the fighting. After years of violence, an end is still not in sight.

Samar Abdulateef - a Syrian refugee in Kilis, Turkey
Samar Abdulateef - a Syrian refugee in Kilis, Turkey

Catastrophic humanitarian situation due to years of conflict

Before the civil war, Syria was able to take care of itself and boasted a high level of education, with all children attending school. After years of violence, Syria is now experiencing one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises since World War II. More than 5 million people have fled Syria, and 6.3 million are refugees within their own country (as of July 2017).  A substantial improvement to the humanitarian situation is not in sight. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13.5 million Syrians are currently dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Catastrophic Humanitarian situation due to years of conflict
A Yazidi family from Iraq that was forced from its home by IS. Approximately 11 million people in Iraq are dependent on humanitarian assistance. © Welthungerhilfe

Welthungerhilfe has been providing emergency aid to civil war victims in Syria since November 2012. With the swelling tide of refugees to Turkey and northern Iraq and with additional displacements within Iraq, Welthungerhilfe also became involved in these countries. Coordinated by the country office in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, civil war victims and displaced persons in the region have been receiving support since the summer of 2014. Since November 2016, Welthungerhilfe has been operating another country office in the city of Dohuk in northern Iraq.

Map: Projects of Welthungerhilfe and Alliance2015 in middle east


Welthungerhilfe efforts in Syria are focusing on the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo. Most people have hardly any opportunities to earn money: Factories are shuttered, trade with neighbouring countries has dried up and the agricultural industry has broken down. Together with its partners Hand in Hand for Syria, IHSAN and People in Need (PIN), Welthungerhilfe is supporting the most vulnerable families in Syria with urgent humanitarian assistance.

How Welthungerhilfe is helping

Institutional donors: Federal Foreign Office (AA), UN OCHA, Turkey Humanitarian Fund

Catastrophic Humanitarian situation due to years of conflict
Zeyneb fled from the Syrian province of Idlib and currently lives in Turkey. She can shop at the local supermarket with a cash-card from Welthungerhilfe. © Welthungerhilfe


More than 2.9 million Syrian refugees had found refuge in Turkey by March 2017 (UN OCHA). The refugee camps do not have sufficient capacity for them, and many people do not want to live in camps anyway. The majority therefore lives elsewhere, mostly in the country's southeast or in metropoles such as Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir. Welthungerhilfe aims to make it easier for the refugees to survive:

How Welthungerhilfe is helping


Institutional donor: Federal Foreign Office (AA), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), own funds, private donations

How does emergency aid for refugees in Turkey actually look? We distribute cash cards on location in order to allow Syrian refugees to buy essential food supplies and fulfil other basic daily needs. Upon registration, families receive between 300 and 600 Turkish lira (approximately 84 to 168 euro) on their cash-card every month.


Syrian refugees comprise approximately one fifth of Lebanon’s population; according to the UN Refugee Agency, over 1 million refugees are registered there. In conjunction with Alliance2015 partner Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe is active in the province of Akka in northern Lebanon near the Syrian border. The project objective is to strengthen the resilience of Lebanese and Syrian nationals affected by the Syrian civil war and living in the marginalised region.

How Welthungerhilfe is helping


Since IS began its advance in northwestern Iraq in August 2014, more than 3 million people have been displaced. Approximately 11 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Learn more about our work in Iraq here.

Alliance2015 for Optimal Help

The people affected by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are in desperate need of support. Welthungerhilfe is working hand in hand with other organisations to meet the needs of the suffering population as well as possible. Alliance2015 is a strategic alliance of seven European development organisations. Since 2012, Welthungerhilfe has been on location, supporting people in the region along with alliance partners ACTED, Cesvi, Concern Worldwide, Hivos and People in Need.

The current annual report offers a summary of Alliance2015’s activities in Syria and the surrounding countries affected by the conflict.

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