Syria: More people need aid than ever before after 13 years of extreme crisis


ALEXANDRIA, Va –  Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:

People in northwest Syria are battling to survive amidst record unemployment and rising food shortages and malnutrition, Islamic Relief says on the 13th anniversary of the outbreak of the Syria crisis.

Across Syria, more people need aid than ever before, with 16.7 million people now needing humanitarian assistance – the highest number since the crisis began 13 years ago. But international attention on the crisis has waned, with massive and deadly cuts to humanitarian aid funding.

The northwest region, where Islamic Relief works, is one of the worst affected and child wasting there – the most severe form of malnutrition – has increased by almost 500% in the past four years1.

Almost 90% of people in the northwest are now unemployed, leaving families trapped in poverty and unable to afford food. More than 80% of people now need food aid and almost 1 million children under five years old need nutrition services. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are increasingly suffering from anaemia with many struggling to breastfeed because of poor nutrition.

But funding cuts mean the number of people receiving food aid in the northwest has halved over the past year, and the UN World Food Programme had to reduce its general food assistance programme. Islamic Relief staff say that families affected by the cuts are now missing meals or selling their only remaining assets so they can buy food, but food prices are rising rapidly due to the scarcity. Children as young as 10 are increasingly pushed into child labour so they can afford to eat. With a significant portion of children in northwest Syria currently out of school, many resort to scavenging dumpsites and garbage containers for bits of metal or plastic that they can sell.

Islamic Relief staff in northwest Syria say that people are increasingly in despair at not being able to support their families and cases of some psychosocial related issues linked to this are increasing. Many Syrians have attempted to cross into Turkiye in the hope of finding better conditions but are unable to do so due to the border control.

Syria is also experiencing the worst surge in violent attacks since at least 2020. In the northwest, regular and indiscriminate bombing has killed dozens of civilians and destroyed infrastructure again in recent months, and forced more than 120,000 people to flee their homes, leaving them in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

Rajab Haj Saleem, Islamic Relief’s head of office in Idlib, says: “In Syria we live between crisis and disaster. After 13 years we still fear attacks at any time and we are suffering in a destroyed economy which provides virtually nothing for the people here. Our biggest needs are security and income. Unemployment is widespread here and there are few jobs or ways to earn a living. People are experiencing profound despair, leading to psychosocial issues. Many depend on humanitarian aid for their lifeline, but over the past year this too has been slashed. We urge the international community to remember the critical needs of the people of Syria, who continue to suffer from one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern history.”

Almost half of the northwest region’s population – 1.9 million out of around 4.5 million people – are living in the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), with many in small and flimsy tents that are vulnerable to extreme weather. Outbreaks of diseases such as cholera are common. This winter thousands of tents were flooded and destroyed.

Inflation has also hit northwest Syria severely with the cost of fuel, wheat and cooking oil rising fast, especially due to the Ukraine crisis, leaving people unable to afford even basic food items such as bread. Last year’s deadly earthquakes further devastated the region’s economy and infrastructure, and wiped out crops and agricultural infrastructure on which many families depend. Many families live on $20 or less a month. Last year the Syrian pound lost 130% of its value.

The 2023 UN-led humanitarian response plan for Syria received just 39% of the funding it required. But when humanitarian funding is available it is still having a major positive impact.

Islamic Relief’s ongoing response in northwest Syria provides aid that includes delivering food to vulnerable displaced families, supporting rural health facilities, and boosting long-term livelihoods – for example by supporting farmers with training, seeds and other agricultural inputs. The charity is also generating employment through cash-for-work projects that provide paid wages for local communities to rebuild vital infrastructure such as schools that have been damaged by bombing or the earthquake.




Syed M. Hassan  or
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)




Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.

Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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