North-west Syria

Situation Report

Highlights

  • Frequent shelling continued in June and July, killing 14 civilians, including two women and five children, and injured 17 civilians, including 10 children, according to OHCHR.
  • On 15 June, a car bomb killed an aid worker who worked for a Syrian humanitarian NGO in Al Bab.
  • 8,590 people and 7,842 people were newly internally displaced in June and July respectively, according to the Humanitarian Needs Assessment Programme (HNAP).
  • New COVID-19 cases continued the decreasing trend in June and July. Nearly 11 per cent of the population received one dose and 6 per cent received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • OCHA Assistant Secretary-General Joyce Msuya echoed call for renewal of cross-border response into Syria following her visit to Türkiye from 25 to 29 July.
Water shortage in camps in NWS
Children living in Amran camp in west Idleb transported water from nearby tanks due to water shortage in the camp. 7 June 2022. (Photo: OCHA/Mohanad Zayat)

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North-west Syria

Situation Report

Key Figures

4.5M
Population in north-west Syria
4.1M
People in need in north-west Syria
3.1M
Food insecure people
2.8M
Internally displaced people (IDPs)
1.7M
IDPs living in camps

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Contacts

Sanjana Quazi

Head of Office

Madevi Sun-Suon

Public Information Officer

Ezgi Tutkal

Reporting Officer

North-west Syria

Situation Report
Background

Disclaimer

This Situation Report covers developments in north-west Syria and Ras Al Ain – Tell Abiad. OCHA Türkiye prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators and the Humanitarian Field Officers (HFO). The data/information collected come from both sources.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Feature
Um Mwafak, displaced mother in Al Bab
“My daughter and I are widows. We live with my son who has eight children. Without the monthly food baskets, our situation will turn really bad.” - Um Mwafak, displaced mother in Al Bab

UN Security Council extended cross-border aid to Syria for six months. What’s next?

On 12 July 2022, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2642 (2022) extending UN cross-border aid from Türkiye to north-west Syria until 10 January 2023. This includes the delivery of food, medicines, vaccines, and other life-saving items. In a short interview, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Cutts shares his reflections on the outcome of this Security Council vote and the ways forward.

In its 12th year of conflict, humanitarian needs in north-west Syria are at an all-time high. The UN has been advocating for a 12-month renewal, yet the vote has been extended only for six months. What are some of your initial reactions to this outcome?

Mark Cutts: Putting an arbitrary time limit on life-saving aid to some of the most vulnerable people in the world is not easy for anyone to understand. There are millions of displaced people in north-west Syria – mostly women, children and elderly people – who depend on cross-border aid for their survival. For these people, who’ve been living in a war zone for more than a decade and who see no end to their suffering, a six-month extension is not something that’s going to give them a lot of comfort. That being said, a six-month extension of the Security Council resolution is better than no resolution at all. The priority now is to ensure that this resolution is extended again. Humanitarians need to continue to have safe and sustained access to civilians throughout Syria, on both sides of the front-line.

What challenges do you foresee in the humanitarian response with this six-month extension?

Mark Cutts: The uncertainty over the renewal of the resolution each year is extremely disruptive. It affects funding, planning, procurement, logistics, contracts for warehouses and staff, and many other areas of work, imposing massive constraints on the humanitarian operation. Having a six-month rather than twelve-month extension makes it even more disruptive. And there’s a clear contradiction between the short time-frame and the request for humanitarians to focus more on early recovery, which by its very nature requires a longer time frame. What is most worrying of all is that the resolution is due to expire in January, which is right in the middle of winter when people are most vulnerable. It’s hard to imagine how people will survive if aid is cut off in mid-winter. We have to avoid this at all costs.

What are your expectations of humanitarians and of the international community come January 2023?

Mark Cutts: We need to remind the world of the scale and severity of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in north-west Syria, where millions of people remain dependent on cross-border aid for their survival. And we need to demonstrate the effectiveness of the current cross-border aid operation, where the UN has set up one of the most rigorous monitoring and risk management mechanisms of any aid operation in the world. This is what will give the best chance of further renewal of the resolution. The Security Council has renewed the cross-border resolution for eight years now, and I hope it will continue to do so for as long as it’s needed.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Trends
Water shortage in displaced camps in north-west Syria
In Al-Nour camp, water access is a challenge and family members, including children, have to frequently fetch buckets of water from nearby tanks. 5 August 2022. (Photo: OCHA/Abdul Aziz Qitaz)

Access to water in north-west Syria: unpredictable, unsustainable and costly

Over a decade of war has damaged infrastructure and disrupted water networks in north-west Syria. The water situation is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change and unpredictable weather events.

In 39 subdistricts, 1.6 million people rely on networks as their primary source of water. While residential areas have more access to water networks, the needs of communities have largely been unmet due to unstable power supply and the increasing cost of diesel to power generator systems. Out of 667 water systems, 43% of them are not functional. These burdens have increasingly forced families to depend on other sources including water trucking to compensate for their daily water needs.

Today, water trucking is the primary water source for 1.9 million people in the same 39 subdistricts as well 18 health care facilities and 311 schools. For displacement sites, it is the main method of water delivery. Less than 25% of all registered camps are connected to water networks, leaving over one million people dependent on trucking.

The water situation is particularly dire in northern Aleppo’s Al Bab subdistrict. About 185,000 people live in host communities and displacement sites. Before 2017, the subdistrict was supplied with water from the Al-Khafsa water station on the Euphrates River. However, this connection was cut off in 2017 following territorial changes, forcing the population to depend on private and public water sources including trucking by humanitarians.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Emergency Response
Water trucking in NWS
Water trucking, which is often costly, is the current primary water source for families living in camps in north-west Syria. 19 May 2022. (Photo: OCHA/Ali Haj Suleiman)

Prioritizing water networks connections in displacement sites

Funding gaps remain an obstacle to providing clean water and sanitation in north-west Syria.

According to the latest OCHA Funding Gap Analysis, the Syria Cross-border WASH cluster faces an 85% funding gap (amounting to US$35.3 million).

The latest gap analysis of the WASH Cluster also reveals extensive water access gaps. In north-west Syria, approximately 288,000 people are not served with water from networks and close to 359,000 people are not served by water trucking in displacement sites. While some of these gaps are to be filled by this year’s first allocation of the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund (SCHF), costs and needs remain high, especially in the summer months. In a region where over 90% of the population lives in poverty, purchasing water has a significantly adverse impact on household income. Gaps in service provision can also drive health concerns such as the spread of water-borne diseases.

The WASH cluster’s strategy aims to connect as many displacement sites as possible to existing water networks, gradually phasing out dependency on expensive and unsustainable water trucking.

Humanitarian organizations aim to provide up to 40 liters of water per person per day. Additionally, the newly launched Action Plan for Dignified Shelter and Living Conditions by the Syria Cross-border Shelter/Non-Food Items Cluster incorporated in-house plumbing connected to water networks as part of their proposal for dignified shelters.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Feature
Solar powered water stations proejct
In 2022, 330 solar panels have been installed in the village of Korin to help power water stations, reaching all 15,000 community members and nearby camp residents with clean water. (Photos: People in Need)

How solar powered water stations are changing lives in Idleb

The use of solar panels is transforming water access for families in north-west Syria. In the village of Korin, in southern Idleb, all 15,000 community members now have sustainable access to clean and safe water using water stations powered by the sun.

“Solar power is low-cost, sustainable and environmental-friendly,” says Mahmoud Khaled Othman, an electrical engineer of nearly five years and a native of Korin.

Mahmoud is among the engineers tasked with setting up 330 solar panels in the village this year, in addition to his routine work of supervising water stations. The project was conducted with the support of the non-governmental organization People in Need and funded by OCHA’s Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund (SCHF).

“Before the installation of solar panels, people relied on water trucking and diesel-powered water stations which were costly and required a lot of maintenance work,” he shares.

Without an effective centralized water supply system, families in nearby camps also relied on the same means for access to water at the time.

For over 1.9 million people in north-west Syria, water trucking serves as their primary source of clean and safe water. According to the Syria Cross-border WASH cluster, less than a quarter of the 1,464 registered camps are connected to water networks.

Often daily services of water trucking are costly and dependent on humanitarian organizations.

“With solar power, the impacts can last as long as fifteen years so it decreases dependency on aid. Once the situation improved, we’ve noticed that families who were displaced started to come back to the village,” stresses Mahmoud.

Prior to this project, villagers and nearby camp residents paid anywhere from $20 to $25 per month for water trucking services. With the use of solar panels, families now spend $5 per month.

However, the path towards solar energy in north-west Syria requires more support and investment.

Today, less than five per cent of electric power sources in the area are solar notably across Aleppo and Idleb.

For Mahmoud, the use of solar panels has trickle-down effects beyond reducing the cost of water access, from curbing the spread of water-borne diseases to supporting mental health as families have more predictable access to a basic service.

“We really need more sustainable projects like this to turn lives around in addition to short-term aid. They enable environments where children can grow up healthier,” says Mahmoud.

“I hope we can transfer this idea of using solar energy to other parts of Syria. And I hope the international community won’t forget the people of Syria.”

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Feature
GBV awareness raising session in widows' camp in NWS
Women in a “widows’ camp” in Idleb participated in a Gender-based Violence awareness-raising session. March 2022. (Photo: MARAM Foundation)

Humanitarian needs in north-west Syria’s “widows’ camps"

"Widows’ camps” are segregated sites established in north-west Syria for women who are widowed, divorced, have missing husbands, or who are otherwise with children but not currently with a male spouse.

An estimated 47 of these camps have been identified, hosting over 12,000 women and children. 13 of these sites are standalone for women and children only, while the rest are located in gender-segregated sections in formal or informal displacement sites.

The conditions in the “widows’ camps” pose multiple protection concerns and compounding needs. The majority of the camps severely restrict freedom of movement. There are often strict regulations over behavior, such as withholding of goods and services, including food, as a form of punishment. Mental health issues are also common. The segregation of women and their children contributes to increased stigmatization and heightens vulnerability, even after when they leave these sites.

Children are particularly at risk and many are involved in child labor in the camps.

According to a study conducted by an NGO in 28 camps, 58% of boys and almost half of girls aged 11 and above are working. Boys have to leave the sites once they reach puberty, usually at age 12 to 13 years old. Those who leave alone are vulnerable to risks of being exploited for labour and being recruited by armed groups. Moreover, the camps usually also lack education facilities, preventing access to education for all children.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Emergency Response

Finalization of the Inter-Cluster Action Plan for Widows’ Camps

According to 2021 data provided by the Syria Cross-Border Protection Cluster, 33 of the camps have dedicated Gender-based Violence (GBV) programming. Meanwhile, data from 2022 suggests that 20 of these camps have dedicated Child Protection programming. This programming also expands to cases outside these sites, reaching children who had to leave these camps and became separated from their mothers/primary caregivers.

The Protection Cluster is currently finalizing an Inter-Cluster Action Plan for Widows’ Camps.

The Action Plan involves the systematic collection of information on humanitarian needs in the camps and identification of segregation in other informal and formal regular displacement sites. It also aims to scale up GBV Livelihood programming, increase GBV and Child Protection programming, and increase access to WASH, education and mobile health services. This include but is not limited to treatment for malnutrition and awareness raising on substance abuse and addiction.

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North-west Syria

Situation Report
Analysis
FGA - July to Sept

Out now: New Funding Gap Analysis

There is a 43 per cent funding gap to provide aid to 4.1 million people in need in north-west Syria, according to the new OCHA Funding Gap Analysis (July to September 2022). Humanitarian partners require a total of $546.6 million to carry out life-saving and early recovery activities.

To view the full analysis, click here.

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