2020 IN REVIEW
SYRIA HUMANITARIAN FUND AT A GLANCE
Humanitarian situation in 2020
The ongoing crisis in Syria had a devastating and profound impact on the population. Overall, 11.06 million people were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020. This included 4.65 million people estimated to be in acute need. Almost 10 years since the crisis started, 6.7 million people remained internally displaced and 5.6 million people fled their homes to neighbouring countries. In 2020, over 1.8 million population movements inside Syria were reported, an average of 152,000 a month. The crisis is multi-layered. Some areas were affected by ongoing conflict that caused extensive damage to crucial civilian infrastructure, such as schools, water supply systems, health facilities and housing, much of which remained unrestored. In other areas where hostilities had subsided, life remained a daily struggle due to limited access to basic services and livelihood opportunities, increasing financial hardship and eroding the capacity to cope. On top of that, the outbreak of COVID-19 took an extra heavy toll on all, exacerbating the effects of the Syrian crisis further by stressing the already fragile health-.care system and affecting the local economy. In 2020, 52 per cent of public health facilities were partially damaged or non-functioning.
While the economy had been in steady decline since the onset of the Syria crisis, the Lebanon financial crisis of late 2019 prompted a further worsening. The exchange rate also further weakened starting mid-March 2020, dropping to the lowest point on record by the end of 2020. This was exacerbated by COVID-19 containment measures. These included a nationwide curfew, a ban on exporting certain items and border closures which disrupted supply chains, reduced working hours and resulted in commodity shortages of staple goods as well as price hikes. In December 2020, the Syrian pound depreciated by 69 per cent on the informal currency exchange market compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, the official exchange rate of SYP1,250/US$ changed in June 20207. WFP’s national average reference food basket in December 2020 was reported at SYP11,676 which is 236 per cent higher than in December 2019. By the end of 2020, the Food Security and Agriculture (FSA) sector estimated 12.4 million people were food insecure in Syria (an increase of 60 per cent from 7.9 million people in 2019).
Displacement and return
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increased from 6.1 million in August 2019 to 6.7 million in August 2020. The IDPs were primarily hosted in Idleb, Aleppo, Rural Damascus, Damascus and Lattakia, while 448,019 spontaneous IDP return movements were recorded, mainly in Idleb, Aleppo, Deir-ez-Zor, Hama and Dar’a.
Wildfires continued to affect production of wheat, barley, olives and other crops, over the summer months of 2020. Over 16,000 hectares of wheat were estimated to have burned during the 2019-2020 cropping season. The FSA sector estimated that 32,000 metric tons of wheat had been lost, enough to have met the annual needs of almost 160,000 people. An estimated 12,000 hectares of barley used for animal feed were also lost, while around 8,073 hectares of olive and other crops were destroyed by fires, which ravaged Syria's coastal Lattakia and Tartous governorates and the central Homs province in September 2020.. A significant amount of livelihood productive assets were destroyed by fires. This directly affected the livelihoods of 19,198 households (estimated 115,188 individuals), with both short- and long-term consequences. The extremely vulnerable hill farmers within the affected locations needed support to meet their immediate food needs, coupled with quick-impact livelihood support to help them recover from the shock.
Protection needs continued to prevail across Syria. Harmful coping mechanisms were being adopted, many of which disproportionately affected women and girls. These included early marriages and various forms of gender-based violence. Children – already among the most vulnerable in society – were particularly exposed to risks related to child labour, begging and explosive hazards. The United Nations estimated in October 2019 that explosive ordnance contaminated more than 2,560 communities (11.5 million people) and had caused an average of 184 explosive incidents a day throughout the year. Missing civilian documentation represented a barrier to exercising housing, land and property rights and might have caused restrictions to freedom of movement and access to assistance and services. Insecure shelter/housing tenure due to the loss or lack of civil documentation generated additional physical and mental consequences for communities, often leaving them with little choice but to reside in unsafe buildings prone to collapse or in other sites of last resort.