Millions of Lives Are At Risk
Now in its third year, the Syrian civil war has sparked one the greatest population exoduses in modern history, with some 2.4 million Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries. Inside Syria, some 6.5 million people are estimated to be displaced and one-third of Syria’s housing is thought to be destroyed. The devastation to Syria’s infrastructure also contributed to a polio outbreak in 2013—a disease not reported in the country since 1999.
According to UNHCR, in 2013 alone, some 1.7 million refugees have been registered—an increase of more than 340 percent compared to last year. By the end of 2013, some 2.4 million Syrian refugees are estimated to be living in Lebanon (905,000), Jordan (575,000), Turkey (562,000), Iraq (216,000), and Egypt (145,000). The growing demand for housing has pushed up rental prices, particularly in Lebanon where camps are not allowed, putting great financial strain on both refugee and host communities. Higher rental prices, along with limited work opportunities, depleted savings, and rising debt levels, are pushing refugee families, many of whom were middle-class before the war, into poverty.
The war shows no sign of abating, and the United Nations estimates Syrian refugees could number as many as 4.1 million—more than 2 million of them children—by the end of 2014. In Syria and across the region, nearly three-quarters of Syria’s 22.4 million people will require humanitarian assistance, a scale that prompted the UN to launch the largest appeal in its history for $6.5 billion for inside Syria and $4.2 billion to cover the needs of refugees across the region from January to December 2014.
Concern Worldwide’s Response: Protecting the Health of the Most Vulnerable
Concern is working inside Syria to protect the health and well-being of conflict-affected internally displaced persons and host communities. We work with local authorities to protect 100,000 people from diseases carried by insects and contaminated water. To this end, Concern is boosting water supply by restoring community water systems, an investment that will deliver at least 15 liters of water a day to people for drinking and household needs. Additionally, Concern is improving water quality through chlorination and the distribution of aquatabs, and controlling sandflies in an effort to curb leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that causes skin sores and has been nicknamed the “Aleppo boil” because of its prevalence inside Syria after the outbreak of war.
Syrian refugees are increasingly living day to day and facing a very uncertain future
With more than 860,000 Syrian refugees, Lebanon is bearing the greatest burden of the Syrian refugee crisis in the world. With no camps in the country, Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are settling in whatever shelter they can find and afford. Some 75 percent of Syrians in Lebanon are renting accommodation, including spaces that are sub-standard and were never intended to house people, such as car garages, unfinished buildings, and makeshift shelters on open plots of land. With little to no jobs available in Lebanon and savings running out, Syrian refugees are increasingly living day to day and facing a very uncertain future.
Concern is working in Akkar district, the poorest and northernmost district in Lebanon, to meet the water, sanitation, and hygiene needs of more than 3,000 Syrian refugees living in rent-free buildings known as collective centers and more than 50 informal tented settlements. We are also renovating five former farm buildings to provide safe, rent-free shelter to more than 800 Syrian refugees, and distributing winter boots to children as well as blankets, heating stoves, and fuel vouchers to families.