Access and Funding for Displaced Syrians Remains a Top Humanitarian Concern Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Geneva – The people of Syria entered their tenth year of conflict in March, only to be confronted with another looming threat: the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease compounds an already devastating crisis that has left 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Against this backdrop, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for solidarity from donors worldwide to support vital needs of 1.3 million internally displaced Syrians and 1.7 million Syrian refugees through a USD 206 million appeal. Of the total amount, USD 33 million will be allocated to efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19. 

The first three months of 2020 saw an alarming rise in hostilities in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib which displaced nearly 1.2 million people. An estimated 6.6 million Syrians are internally displaced across the entire country and over 5.6 million remain as refugees in neighbouring countries. 

“We must be prepared to respond to the threat COVID-19 poses on communities who already struggle to overcome the perils of conflict and displacement,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino.   

“IOM is now expanding its ongoing response to communities in dire need while taking action to halt transmission of the disease, limit the socioeconomic effects on people’s lives and help communities prepare for longer-term recovery.” 

The government reports there have been 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 27 May. While none have been recorded in the northwest, the health and safety of the more than one million persons living in tents in overcrowded, under-resourced sites are of serious concern. 

In neighbouring countries, a potential spread of the disease to refugee and host communities, who often live in dense urban areas, could further inhibit their ability to access sustainable employment, health care, housing and other basic needs. 

Since 2011, IOM has provided life-saving assistance and early-recovery and resilience programmes to millions of conflict-affected people in Syria and throughout the region. Launched today, this year’s call for funding supports a comprehensive pair of inter-agency appeals: the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria and the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).  

“The success of interventions intended to save lives and keep the disease at bay will only be possible if humanitarian access is guaranteed and violence inside Syria ceases,” said DG Vitorino. 

“The prolongation of the current ceasefire in the northwest and continuation of humanitarian aid in that region of Syria will be essential for the foreseeable future. We need to make sure the most vulnerable continue to access this vital lifeline,” he added. 

Funds from the appeal will allow IOM to support partners to provide water, sanitation and hygiene services, establish triage stations, provide Personal Protective Equipment, ventilators and testing kits to first-responders and labs, among other activities in Syrian IDP camps in 2020. 

The Organization will also continue its ongoing humanitarian response which reached nearly two million Syrians displaced within the country and in neighbouring Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq in 2019. 

Inside Syria, IOM supported its partners to provide IDPs with food, winter clothing kits and other emergency items; rehabilitated shelters and provided rental assistance; WASH and protection services; among other services inside reception centres and camps. This is in addition to initiatives that helped hundreds of Syrians access livelihood opportunities.   

Across the region, IOM helped Syrian refugees and host communities access education; engage in income generation activities; start new businesses; receive rental assistance or other basic needs through cash-based assistance; reconstruct their homes and access health or mental health services. 

In addition, IOM strives to enhance long-term, durable solutions for displaced Syrians. In 2019, IOM supported over 27,000 Syrian refugees with resettlement and family reunification efforts. In June of last year, the 100,000th refugee was resettled from Lebanon since the start of the conflict. Thousands of others have also been resettled from neighbouring countries.  

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve and new situations emerge.  

Download IOM’s 2020 IOM Syria Appeal here and the COVID-19 Annex here. 

Download the IOM 2019 Syria Achievements report here. 

Learn more about the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan here

Support IOM’s work in Syria: Donate now 

Watch the IOM Syria Appeal video here.  

For additional information, please contact IOM Angela Wells, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email: [email protected]