North-West Syria Hub
2023-03 Factsheet - North-West Syria Hub
Humanitarian Situation Overview:
After more than 12 years of conflict, humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate in north-west Syria due to ongoing hostilities, a worsening economic crisis, and the aftermath of devastating earthquakes in February 2023. Around 4.1 million people require critical lifesaving assistance, of which approximately 2.7 million are internally displaced (IDPs). Emergency sites that were established as a last resort still host 1.9 million IDPs, around 80% of whom are women and children that are particularly vulnerable to various risks, including gender-based violence.
The major earthquakes that struck southeast Türkiye and north Syria on February 6, 2023, resulted in thousands of casualties and widespread destruction of civilian buildings and infrastructure in both countries. More than 4,500 deaths and 10,400 injuries have been reported, mainly in the districts of Harim, Afrin, Jandairis, and Salqin. The earthquakes have affected at least 96 communities across 35 sub-districts in northwest Syria (NWS), and more than 10,600 buildings have been partially or entirely destroyed.
The Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster tracked more than 108,000 displacements across NWS in February following the earthquakes, and an additional 15,000 displacements were tracked during March. Displaced families have sought refuge in reception and collective centers, existing IDP sites, or are temporarily hosted by other families. Many have lost all their belongings, including essential personal and household items such as bedding, cooking utensils, and clothing.
The earthquakes have compounded the long-standing humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria, where 2.7 million people were already displaced, and 4.1 million people are reliant on humanitarian assistance. Some 1.9 million IDPs live in 1,459 IDP sites, 80 percent of which are women and children who are particularly vulnerable to protection risks, including gender-based violence (GBV).
Rapidly changing weather conditions further threaten life and health, particularly for children, older persons, and people with pre-existing vulnerabilities. Intense rainfall and windstorms during February and March resulted in further damage to earthquake-affected areas and IDP sites hosting displaced families, and the risk for future weather-related incidents remain high.
One of the top priorities for the Shelter/NFI Cluster during the first quarter was the continuation of coordinating the winterization response. Long, extremely cold and unpredictable winters in NW Syria cause acute suffering for 2 million people living without adequate shelter. Based on HNAP’s IDP Shelter Situation in NWS as of Dec 2022, around 800,000 people live in old tents (62% of which are more than 2 years old). Winterization needs are acute and need to be addressed every winter. In recent years, more extreme weather conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfall, and widespread flooding have been observed. This consequently increases the needs of vulnerable people already living under dire conditions.
As of March 2023, 913,777 individuals have been reached with winter assistance (winterization response is tracked from Oct – Mar). Cluster members had secured around US$ 31 million out of the US$ 66 million needed to support the people in need with the minimum survival level of support. This winter season, around 74% of the planned winter response was implemented via cash modality, which is a significant increase compared to previous winters. Approximately 70% of the targeted individuals live in IDP sites.
The Cluster had published an updated version of the Winterization Guidance Note in the third quarter of 2022. The document should be regarded as the absolute minimum recommendations to support vulnerable households in NW Syria. The Cluster also shared a winter advocacy note and continued to engage in discussions with donors on the high needs versus available resources.
The winter response was highly impacted in February 2022 by the earthquake, where partners confirmed that existing programs and resources were utilized to address the needs of the people affected by the earthquake. This winterization response picked up again in March 2023 to complete some of the pending winterization activities in agreement with the donors.
Earthquake Response in NWS
The SNFI Cluster team, in collaboration with their Whole of Syria counterparts, developed an Earthquake Flash Appeal for the first three months of the life-saving emergency response. This Flash Appeal was supported by a response strategy developed by the SNFI Cluster and its members covering life-saving (phase 1) and life-sustaining (phase 2) response activities and recommendations.
The strategic objectives below are in line with the SNFI Cluster’s Earthquake Response Strategy for NWS.
SO1: Life-saving shelter & NFI emergency response
People in need: 2.1 million individuals
Estimated target: 265,500 individuals (covering the first three months, based on the Flash Appeal)
SO2: Life-sustaining response, meaning shelter repair and rehabilitation for shelters with minor and moderate damages as well as dignified shelter for those who lost their homes (severe damage and completely destroyed).
People in need: 1.1 million individuals
Estimated target: 263,000 individuals
Shelter/NFI Cluster response towards the Flash Appeal Targets at the end of March 2023:
- 101,330 individuals reached with emergency shelter (mainly tents)
- 197,610 individuals reached with NFIs
- 16,770 individuals reached with emergency shelter kits
- 100 individuals reached with adaption of collective centers
- No repairs to minor damage building have been reported
- In Idleb, the most targeted sub-districts are: Dana, Maaret Tamsrin, Jisr-Ash-Shugur, Salqin and Harim.
- In Aleppo, the most targeted sub-districts are: Jandairis, Afrin, A’zaz, Daret Azza and Atareb.
Shelter and NFI EQ Response Gap:
- There is an emergency response gap of 39,500 individuals.
- A comprehensive coordinated damage assessment is needed.
- Looking beyond the scope of the flash appeal, at least 53,000 families displaced after the earthquake need dignified shelter.
Earthquake response update by the end of March 2023:
While the Shelter/NFI Cluster partners have reported progress in the earthquake response, many gaps remain. Some 39,500 individuals still need to be reached with shelter and NFI assistance before the initial flash appeal target is met. While some of the sub-targets have been met, it is important to highlight that these targets were set early in the response before shelter assessments were conducted and therefore underestimate the real needs.
In terms of longer-term needs, at least 53,000 families displaced after the earthquake will need dignified shelter. Moreover, new estimations show that some 855,000 individuals have minor or major damages to their homes. However, a more detailed damage assessment is still required to better understand the recovery needs.
Shelter/NFI Cluster partners have reported that most of the NFI kits and tents distributed for the earthquake response were shifted from the usual pre-earthquake programming and winterization response. To enable a timely response not only to earthquake-affected people but also to any future large-scale displacements or weather incidents, it is important that the stock of partners is replenished.
Dignified shelter and living conditions
March 2023 marks one year of the developed and published Dignified Shelter and Living Conditions Action Plan which outlines how to transition IDPs living in tents to more dignified shelters that are better suited for protracted displacement. This activity continues to be a main priority for the Shelter/NFI Cluster during 2023, and the cluster continues its efforts and advocacy around dignified shelter and living conditions. The dignified shelter and living conditions approach promotes more multi-sectoral response planning, implementation, and monitoring, investments in more dignified site infrastructure, wider stakeholder engagement, and reduced reliance on continued repeat emergency services. The dignified shelter is part of dignified living conditions that contributes to develop the lives and protect the affected populations and vulnerable groups taking into account that 80% of people living in IDP sites are women and children.
Since March 2022, 19 cluster members have been able to reach more than 15,000 families in 45 registered IDP sites with dignified shelter. Another 5,247 families living in old tents across 15 IDP sites are currently targeted by ongoing projects. The cluster members will be capable to approach the end of the phase 2 shelter action plan once installing the planned units.
Some of the completed dignified shelters have been used to host people affected by the earthquake. The Cluster’s recommendation going forward and in line with the developed EQ Response Strategy is to do site selection based on the previously established criteria in the action plan and consider sites that have received new IDPs due to the earthquake. These new IDPs, previously host community and families whose buildings are severely damaged (structurally unsafe) or completely destroyed, need dignified shelter.
Reports from cluster partners confirm that the established dignified shelters (varying shelter types) have been almost completely unaffected by the earthquake. OCHA has published a report on Dignified Shelters post-EQ in NWS on one specific site featuring the success of the implemented activity and the feedback of the now hosted families on the site. The report links to pictures of the site before and after the earthquake, confirming the little impact it had on this type of shelter. Those type of shelters (prefabricated ones) have maintained safer living conditions during the earthquake.
As part of continuous efforts to integrate AAP into the dignified shelter and living conditions strategy, the Cluster, together with the AAP Advisor and the CCCM and Protection Clusters, has planned to conduct case studies in IDP sites that have recently transitioned to dignified shelter. The study aims to capture the most significant changes experienced by the affected population, as well as challenges and lessons learned. And this should help pointing out how lives have developed through shifting into dignified shelter part of the dignified living conditions.
The following response is based on 4Ws reporting in line with HRP targets for 2023. It does not include earthquake emergency response figures as they are still being reported separately.
SNFI Cluster members continue to actively respond to the needs of the newly displaced population, as well as protracted IDPs in NW Syria. During the first quarter of 2023, 26,226 individuals received core NFI assistance in the form of NFI kits, kitchen sets, mattresses, jerry cans, carpets, solar lamps, tarpaulin, and blankets. In addition, 263,508 people were reached with seasonal/supplementary NFI distributions.
Shelter assistance was provided to approximately 57,385 people in the first three months of 2023. As part of a complementarity approach, some IDP sites and individuals benefited from more than one SNFI activity. Of this shelter support, 65% was related to the improvement of infrastructure in IDP sites, 16% to the provision of emergency shelter, 17% to the installation of transitional shelters, and 2% to shelter rehabilitation.