Humanitarian work in Syria and vital help for Syrian refugees

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is supporting people affected by two devastating earthquakes which have hit Syria and Türkiye (Turkey).

Last updated 5 February 2024

One year since powerful earthquakes struck Syrian border

It’s now one year since the devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria, and the needs on the ground remain immense. With both countries facing a bitter winter, freezing temperatures will bring an additional layer of hardship as those displaced or still living in temporary shelters. 

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the Turkish Red Crescent (known as Kızılay) have been at the heart of this response, working around the clock providing vital support, including in the hardest hit areas, reaching 14 million people.

The road to recovery is long, but staff and volunteers will continue to support those hardest hit and provide long-term support – from distributing essential aid items, providing cash assistance to help families rebuild their lives, to providing psychological support.   

How has the earthquake affected communities in Syria?

In Syria, eight million people were directly impacted by the earthquakes. More than 5,670 lives were lost and almost 12,000 were injured. Thousands of people remain displaced.

Many of those affected by the earthquake were already living in vulnerable conditions due to 12 years of armed conflict and a severe and worsening economic crisis.

This has caused extensive destruction of cities and towns, massive internal displacement, as well as international displacement regionally and globally. In recent years, millions of people have been pushed deeper into poverty by the worst economic crisis since the start of the conflict and the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Humanitarian organisations have also faced challenges in the provision of assistance due to the unintended impacts arising from Syria-related sanctions regimes. 

One year on, we are deeply worried and concerned about the gravely deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. Currently there is still a need for relief, recovery and longer-term development interventions to run in parallel.

Funding for recovery and longer-term development must be increased to help vulnerable people back on their feet again. 

How has the Red Cross Red Crescent movement helped in Syria?

SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in Syria, providing essential support to communities impacted by the earthquake, including food, water, shelter, healthcare, and mental health services.

So far, teams have:

  • supported 3.5 million people
  • delivered 6.8 million health services
  • given cash relief to 167,000 people in Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia, and Idlib
  • delivered over 392,000 water and rehabilitation services, such as water tank and pump installation
  • provided 76,600 legal services.

What is happening in Syria?

The conflict in Syria began in 2011, and 12 years later it's still ongoing. Although fighting has diminished in the last couple of years, there are still large parts of the country that are not under government control.

If Syria was 100 people:

  • 83 people now live in poverty
  • 77 need access to healthcare
  • 54 don't have access to enough food
  • 70 have no regular access to clean water
  • 12 children are out of school

But Syria is not 100 people. It's 17 million.

The British Red Cross has been there for people in Syria since the start of the crisis 11 years ago. We are still supporting Syrians today, and we will continue to be there for as long as we’re needed.

With the additional impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation in Syria remains a desperate crisis. Refugees from Syria in nearby countries and Syrian people still need emergency relief and our support.

How is the conflict in Syria affecting its people?

The ongoing Syria conflict has caused the collapse of economic and social activities and services. This means that access to livelihoods or employment opportunities, education, water, shelter and healthcare has massively deteriorated, causing a poverty crisis within the country.

More than 11 years of fighting has also caused mass displacement and created a refugee crisis in Syria and nearby countries. Over 12 million Syrian refugees have fled their homes, and over five million are living as refugees in nearby countries.

Syria needs our help now as much as ever. The Red Cross continues to provide vital aid and support to Syrian people and Syrian refugees in nearby countries. Read more about how the Red Cross has already helped six million people living through the Syrian Crisis.

How is the Red Cross helping families and Syrian refugees in Lebanon?

Of the five million people who live in Lebanon, more than one million are refugees from Syria.

Together with the Lebanese Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), we have supported over 1,800 Syrian refugees in Lebanon to start their own businesses.

The money they earn will enable Syrian refugees and host communities to buy what they need most. It also puts more money into the local economy.

How to help Syrian people and Syrian refugees

Your support of the Syria Crisis Appeal will help the Red Cross and our partner, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, provide food, mattresses, blankets and vital services. We will also work with our partners to reach Syrian refugees living in nearby countries.

Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we can deliver emergency aid across front lines to reach people most in need.

A British Red Cross infographic which says:

Syria: ongoing aid in numbers

  • With the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we have helped over 5 million people since the conflict began.
  • This includes providing over 580,000 food items.
  • People have received over 1.5 million other items such as blankets and mattresses.
  • We’re also helping thousands of people to learn new skills and earn a living by growing vegetables and farming sheep.

Contact us for more information