The Largest Humanitarian Crisis in a Generation
March 15th 2020 will mark nine years of a bitter civil war in Syria that has left devastation in its wake. More than 500,000 Syrians are estimated to have died and more than six million have been internally displaced.
A further six million have fled Syria, into neighbouring countries. In Idlib Province, a region about the size of Co. Galway, nearly a million people have been uprooted in the past ten weeks. 80% of them are women and children.
Since 2012, GOAL has been on the ground providing humanitarian support to those most in need – those who have suffered insurmountable terror and uncertainty. As we approach the 9th year of this conflict, we draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Syria and highlight how people, and their families, have been affected by this war.
A Story of Tragedy and Resilience, in Pictures
In the Syrian city of Idlib, many families have been displaced multiple times, undergoing harrowing journeys and struggling to escape the horrors of war. The carnage continues to exact a horrific toll on children. Tens of thousands of children and their families are living in tents and in the open air amidst freezing temperatures.
So desperate are their plight, some have resorted to burning spare cloths to survive winter temperatures. Of those displaced, 60% are children and 20% are women. The daily horror they face is unimaginable. Public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities have been decimated.
According to UNICEF (2019), over 2 million children – more than one-third of Syria’s child population - are out-of-school and 1.3 million children are at risk of dropping out.
During this 9-year war, homes and vital infrastructure have been destroyed, many people have lost families and friends and the future remains uncertain. Many families who have fled violence reside in tents such as these in often cramped conditions.
Before Syria's brutal war began in 2011, more than 22 million people called the country home. After nine years of conflict and civil war, the Syrian crisis has resulted in over 5.6 million refugees and 6.6. million internally displaced. In north-west Syria alone, almost 3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter, water and sanitation and healthcare.
GOAL has been responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria since late 2012, providing food, clean water, utensils, shelter and emergency supplies to people affected by the conflict. We have over 400 Syrian staff working on the ground in Syria helping to save lives every day.
In January 2020, GOAL distributed 1903.5 metric tons of flour to 21 bakeries in Idlib Governorate. Bakeries supported by GOAL produced 329,179 metric tons of bread, enabling some 360,000 people to access bread at a price level that is almost half the current local market rate.
The 64 Water Stations that are supported by GOAL continue to provide some 800,000 people with at least 25 litres of safe drinking water every day. In January 2020, under its WASH programme, GOAL also held hygiene promotion activities with more than 2,500 people in 368 sessions at the community level, including at schools.
As conditions continue to worsen and the long term impact of the conflict deepens, a resolution is no closer. The human cost is stark, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions of lives irreparably damaged. Thousands of children under the age of ten have known nothing but conflict. Education and a normal childhood have simply not been a possibility for so many.
What the future will bring is still uncertain. But of one thing we can be sure - GOAL will be there, on the front line, helping those who need it day after day, week after week.
Our staff, 'GOALies', show tremendous courage everyday, risking their own lives to provide life saving humanitarian support. They are committed, dedicated and relentless in their desire to help those caught in the crossfire. Today, we salute their courage.