People Helped in 2017: 1,602,815
As the war in Iraq ground on into the latter half of the 2000s, it created unrest across the Arab world, sending hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees into Syria and other neighboring countries. Unfortunately, with Syria’s unbalanced economy, limited resources, and strained infrastructure, it quickly became evident that it wouldn’t be able to shoulder the rising influx without the support of the international community.
Action Against Hunger stepped in to help, launching programs in Syria in 2008, as our teams raced to improve access to food and income for Iraqi refugees and Syrian residents alike -- projects that included professional training, tool kit distributions, agricultural programs, and pastoral and livestock management. When violent conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, Action Against Hunger’s teams pivoted to provide emergency support for the thousands displaced by the country’s growing civil war.
Although talks in Geneva and Astana appeared to herald an end to seven years of war in Syria, 2017 broke the record for population displacements within the country with 7,665 people fleeing the violence every single day.
Faced with ever-tighter borders, children, women and men have entered a downward spiral into survival mechanisms as harmful as child labor, children dropping out of school, and gender violence. This also results in a severe test for the population’s nutrition security. Around half a million Syrians are trapped in ten besieged locations, with Aleppo, Raqqa, and Ghouta being the most well-known.
Difficult access has been a major challenge because, in addition to the difficult security conditions, the authorities have imposed controls and major limitations on our access to the most vulnerable regions. Despite these barriers, among other things in 2017, we managed to enter Aleppo at the start of the year and to begin an emergency response in Al Areesha camps and zones under Kurdish control such as Hasakeh.
Our work includes ensuring that displaced families have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, overseeing the distribution of emergency hygiene kits, and building latrines. Action Against Hunger’s teams remain committed to helping displaced families, both within Syria and in the neighboring countries where so many Syrians have fled.