Responding to the crisis in Syria

Women preserving eggplant harvest in Hama, Syria in 2015.
A displaced Syrian woman drying eggplants as part of a UNDP-supported project to maintain essential businesses that create jobs and provide food for Syria-crisis affected in Hama, Syria. Photo: UNDP Syria, 2015

Five years into the conflict in Syria, over 60% of the population is either internally displaced or has fled the country. The fighting has drastically rolled back the region’s human development achievements from 113 out of 189 in 2010 before the conflict to 173 out of 183 countries by the end of 2014.  


  • 75% of Syrians now live in poverty, 55% are unable to access basic necessities and 20% living in active conflict zones face starvation and malnutrition.
  • Nearly 4.1 million registered refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and North Africa/
  • Over 220,000 killed in fighting, with over 1 million injured, and over 12.2 million now need humanitarian assistance.

Over 220,000 people have been killed and nearly 12 million Syrians are displaced (this includes refugees and internally displaced persons).

Infrastructures and economic sectors have been devastated due to prolonged conflict. Syria has incurred a cumulative economic loss of US$203 billion by the end of 2014, a loss four times its GDP in constant prices in 2010. 54.3% of the Syrian labor force is unemployed (3.339 million people). As a result, over 11 million dependents who relied on primary breadwinners have been affected. 75 % of the population is living in poverty. At the same time, millions of Syrians continue seek refuge in neighboring countries, where already vulnerable host communities are struggling with the influx of new refugees.

What does UNDP do?

As one of the development agencies in Syria with the largest presence, UNDP works with affected communities to help them cope, rebuild, recover and protect development gains, for example by providing temporary jobs to affected people, clearing debris and helping local businesses to recover productive assets, supporting basic health services such as ambulatory service, reproductive health support, assistance for people with disabilities, creating solid waste removal projects and other initiatives to prevent communicable and diseases which emerge when communities face poor nutrition, low healthcare support, and poor living conditions.

In countries neighboring Syria, UNDP supports host communities to cope with the influx of refugees by improving infrastructure, and boosting local economic and employment opportunities, especially for vulnerable groups, such as young people, those with disabilities and women - while helping to resolve, mediate and prevent conflict.

UNDP’s development approach focuses on building resilience and ensuring that communities not only recover from the crisis but also improve the longer-term development prospects needed to move towards a lasting peace.

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