The crisis in Syria, which stated in March 2011, continues to cause tremendous human suffering to people both inside and outside the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. More than 12 million people have fled their homes, many more than once. Schools, hospitals and homes have been destroyed. While in many parts of Syria the fighting has stopped, and hundreds of thousands of people have returned home, 11.1 million people remain in need of humanitarian aid in Syria.
Conflict in Syria is affecting millions inside the country and creating a refugee crisis across the Middle East. Oxfam is helping people affected by the conflict in multiple countries, including Syria.
How we’re responding
In Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, Oxfam is helping more than 1.5 million people with life-saving clean water, sanitation, and vital food aid, as well as helping refugees make a living and protecting them from violence. Oxfam in Syria is helping people with clean water, cash, essential clothing items, and support to help make a living and grow nutritious food. In Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, Oxfam is helping refugees affected by the crisis as well as others in the communities hosting them.
Syria: Oxfam’s operations inside Syria focus on providing clean water through the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, providing water by truck, and repairing of water sources. Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, Oxfam has beefed up its response, distributing thousands of hygiene kits, cash, as well as providing seeds and seedlings to farmers in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and rural Damascus. We are currently working in eight of Syria’s 14 governorates. We work with communities to prevent the spread of diseases by promoting good hygiene practices in schools and by training local community volunteers. We distribute food where needed and support farmers to grow food and make a living through training and cash for people who need it the most.
In Eastern Ghouta Oxfam is repairing water sources and sewage networks, enabling more families to have access to clean water and to improve public health. In Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere, Oxfam is working to improve waste management systems to help prevent the spread of diseases. Our teams work in schools and with community groups to improve personal hygiene, including specifically working with women. In communities including Qalamoun, north of Damascus, and Deir ez-Zor, Oxfam is supporting small-scale farmers by repairing irrigation systems and providing seeds and animal fodder so that they can begin farming again.
Lebanon: Oxfam is providing Syrian refugees in Lebanon clean drinking water and emergency cash assistance. Over the past five years, we have increased our activities in response to the Syria crisis, improving water and sanitation and providing cash for refugees as well as poor Lebanese, helping refugees with legal issues relating to their safety, and supporting small businesses and private-sector job creation. Oxfam is currently working in North Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and in Palestinian camps and informal settlements. In the past year, we have helped approximately 28,466 people directly and 60,996 indirectly through our work in Lebanon.
In March 2020, Oxfam launched a COVID-19 response plan including training community members to raise awareness of Covid-19 and how to prevent its spread, distributing soap and disinfection kits and increasing the water supply.
Jordan: Oxfam is working in Za’atari refugee camp and in the nearby Jordanian communities. The main activities include providing water and sanitation and waste management, enhancing the economic participation of youth and women, and addressing gender inequality by working with women's rights organizations so that women, including Syrians, can find decent work opportunities.
Across Jordan, Oxfam works with partners and allies on business development, skills building, and mentoring and coaching of youth and women. In Za’atari camp Oxfam runs a greenhouse project and handicrafts projects which provide training and some income for women refugees in particular. Oxfam continues to provide recycling and waste collection services to the entire camp, roughly 77,000 people spread across five square kilometers by hiring and training volunteer refugee workers. In 2019 alone, the program created more than 1,000 jobs every month. Oxfam was able to secure permits to allow the project to continue despite recent Covid-19 lockdown and curfew measures. Oxfam recently reached a milestone of 4 million kilograms (8.8 million pounds) of recyclable waste collected, in total, since the programs inception. Our community engagement teams worked hard over the course of the lockdown and curfew to ensure refugees as well as solid waste teams were kept up to date on Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures including physical distancing and preventative practices. We estimate that through our remote community engagement, Oxfam was able to reach more than 30,000 refugees daily. In the past year, we have helped approximately 56,000 people directly through our work in Jordan.
Turkey: Oxfam affiliate KEDV is including refugees from Syria in its programs to strengthen women’s leadership and entrepreneurship. As soon as the Covid-19 pandemic began, KEDV shared documents on preventive measures with grassroots women’s groups, and distributed leaflets in Arabic in refugee communities. KEDV works with highly dispersed and excluded communities on employment and business opportunities for low-income refugee and host community women. It runs skills development and vocational training, supports women in product development and marketing, and facilitates their access to finance. KEDV programs focus on the care economy, agro-tourism, trade, and textiles while providing childcare services for workers.
Working for peace
Oxfam works with partners and allies across the region as well as in Europe and the US to advocate for peace, and ensure that the voices of women, youth, and refugees are included in discussions about policies that affect them.
To achieve a just and lasting peace, we need a peace process that represents all Syrians – including women – and commits to upholding their human rights. We call on world leaders to set aside their rivalries and prioritize efforts to support inclusive political negotiations.
Oxfam in Turkey supported some of the earliest coalitions of Syrian-led civil society organizations working towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict, peace building, local ceasefires, and mechanisms for maintaining those. In 2018, we organized the International Refugee Congress, which brought together more than 600 refugee-led and civil society organizations from major refugee-hosting countries to enhance their participation in the negotiations around the Global Compact on Refugees.
In response to increased fighting in northern Syria in October 2019, Oxfam joined with 14 other humanitarian organizations to call on parties to the conflict to fully respect International Humanitarian Law and ensure that they refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas. They called on armed groups to take measures to protect civilians and facilitate safe, unhindered humanitarian access. People living in the area affected by this military action have the right to freedom of movement and must not be forcibly displaced from their homes.
In the US, Oxfam collaborates with a wide network of Syrian diaspora and other organizations to advocate for an end to the Muslim ban, continuation of Temporary Protected Status for Syrians and others, and more resettlement of refugees from conflict areas such as Syria. We also work in coalition to educate policy makers, government officials, and the public on the most pressing needs in Syria and for Syrian refugees, and to make sure the US provides humanitarian support to those affected by the crisis.
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