2021 in Review
Humanitarian situation in 2021
Ongoing hostilities, severe economic downturn, harsh weather conditions and the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the humanitarian situation in 2021.
According to the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), 13.4 million people needed humanitarian aid across Syria. Out of those in need, 3.4 million people were in need in north-west Syria. By early 2022, the total figure increased to 14.6 million people.
While military hostilities decreased since a ceasefire on 5 March 2020, daily artillery shelling and sporadic airstrikes continued in north-west Syria throughout the reporting period. While hostilities have mainly concentrated on frontline areas, several incidents occurred in residential areas, resulting in civilian deaths and damage to civilian infrastructure. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified that at least 214 civilians were killed, and 624 civilians were injured because of shelling, airstrikes, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Unexploded Remnant of War (UXOs) in 2021. Humanitarian workers and infrastructure remained at risk. Ten humanitarian workers were killed in 2021.
By the end of 2021, an estimated 2.8 million people in north-west Syria were displaced, including 1.7 million living in 1,407 displacement sites. Eighty per cent of displaced people were women and children. New displacements of nearly 300,000 people were recorded in north-west Syria during 2021, mostly driven by economic incentives and access to livelihoods and services. Communities living in frontline areas are especially vulnerable to renewed displacement. An escalation of hostilities in June and July 2021 led to a wave of displacement, when 11,500 people fled from Jebel Al Zawiya area in 10 days.
The Syrian pound (SYP) lost value against the US dollar (USD) in 2021, reaching a historic low of 4,760 SYP/USD in March. Although rebounding and averaging 3,500 SYP/USD in the last months of the year, prices of basic commodities rose sharply, affecting already vulnerable households in the north-west. The Turkish lira (TRY), widely used in the north-west Syria, suffered chronic depreciation throughout 2021, particularly in November and December, losing more than 40 per cent of its value against the USD. The depreciation, combined with the fact that most commodities in the north-west are imported from Turkey, resulted in even higher prices. The price of the minimum amount of basic goods that people need for their survival increased sharply, further increasing humanitarian need.