2021 Humanitarian Needs
Ten years into the Syria crisis, humanitarian needs are deepening. Ongoing insecurity and the compounded impact of displacement, combined with worsening socio-economic conditions characterized by sharp currency depreciation, record-level price increases and cuts in subsidized goods have prompted an almost 20 per cent increase in the number of people in need compared to early 2020 - with a disproportionate impact on women and children. As of January 2021, around 13.4 million people are estimated to require some form of humanitarian and protection assistance, including 6 million in acute need, due to a convergence of factors arising from a sharp reduction in purchasing power, the loss of essential livelihoods and income, mounting food insecurity, limited access to basic services such as health, WASH, education, nutrition and critical protection services, inadequate shelter conditions as well as the immediate and longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While conflict-related displacement in early 2020 generated additional needs for IDPs, returnees, host communities particularly in north-west Syria, and Palestine refugees, the severe economic deterioration and its knock-on effects on income loss and reduced purchasing power have tipped previously less affected segments of the population into humanitarian needs, and have exacerbated living conditions for those with pre-existing humanitarian needs. While there are significant nuances by geography and population group, the principal, often inter-linked drivers of need in Syria at the start of 2021 are growing food insecurity; loss of income and livelihoods; lack of and increasingly unaffordable critical basic services, including health care, safe water provision, education and protection services; a wide array of specific protection risks and needs; and inadequate and unaffordable shelter/housing. These findings are corroborated by preferences expressed by communities: when asked, Syrians prioritize access to food as by far their number one need, followed by livelihood and income support, and NFI and shelter assistance.
Needs analysis and related data in this document are based on the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Syria. The 2021 HNO was informed by several assessments, including the Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (implemented country-wide at household level in September/October 2020, complemented by key informant interviews); household-level assessments by the WASH and Food Security and Agriculture Sectors, respectively; key informant-based assessments by the Early Recovery Sector and complemented by regular needs and operability monitoring by the Health, Nutrition and Child Protection Sectors, respectively, and by UN Sector Lead Agencies.