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Syria - the forgotten war

6 February 2024

Syria Piatrice

While the world’s eyes have understandably been on Gaza and Israel in the last few months, the people of Syria continue to suffer from the effects of conflict, 13 years into their brutal civil conflict.

The Syria crisis remains the largest displacement in the world, with over 12 million Syrians forcibly moved from their homes and communities. Lebanon, the host of many Syrian refugees, has experienced devastating economic decline, the Beirut Port blast, and now the effects of the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

But even though the media has packed up their lights and cameras and moved on, SCIAF has continued to support those most affected by the conflict in Syria. 

SCIAF’s work in Syria began in 2016 and thanks to your donations at the time totalling £1.6 million, we launched a long-term emergency programme with our sister agency CAFOD. 

SCIAF’s Emergency Technical Lead Mark Adams said:

“In the short term, our projects focused on providing immediate relief for families caught up in the devastation, such as access to food, cash, warm blankets, medical aid and psychosocial support.  We also supported refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

“As the crisis continued and access to populations inside Syria increased, we continued to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those still in need. We have helped people recover and repair their homes and communities in cities such as Aleppo and Homs and continued to supoport refugees in neighbouring countries.   

“Projects in Lebanon, for instance, have helped with the integration of refugees in their new communities, and supported refugee women to gain news skills and employment, supported dedicated sexual and gender-based violence services as well as livelihoods and urban farming projects so that the poorest families can grow food at home.” 

And then came the 6th of February 2023. 

Syria, as well as neighbouring Turkiye, was dealt a further deadly blow as a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the dead of night as the people slept. 

The tragedy killed more than 50,000 people, while millions lost their homes. Thousands of buildings were destroyed across much of southern Turkiye and northern Syria, including homes, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure. 

Once again, SCIAF supporters reached out with incredible generosity, donating almost £350,000 to our relief appeal. 

Mark added:

“By donating money to our emergency appeal, you helped our partners provide clean water, sanitation, medical supplies, cash grants and daily food packages to those directly affected by the earthquake. They also offered refuge in safe locations such as church facilities, ensuring many families had a dignified place to rest, sleep and plan their futures.

“The priority was to meet the needs of those most vulnerable to the after effects of the earthquake, such as women, children, those with disabilities, and families living in the poorest, most unstable places.  

“People’s mental welfare was also a priority in the aftermath of the disaster. Free psychosocial sessions allowed people to talk to an expert about their experiences, process what happened, and begin overcoming any stress-related problems.”  

Mark said:

“Inevitably the cameras moved on once again. But, because of your compassion, SCIAF will stay with the people of Syria and Türkiye through this current crisis, helping them ‘build back better’.   

“Our work at the moment includes repairing homes and schools, stabilising damaged buildings as well as installing plumbing and electrical systems. We also give cash grants to help families pay their rent since their homes were destroyed and give them the skills and education they need to work themselves out of poverty.”