Rodkreuzhelfer vor zerstörtem Gebäude Ibrahim Malla /IFRC
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The Syria crisis: The biggest disaster for decades

The crisis in Syria has been continuously deteriorating over the years, and still there is no end in sight. Since the outbreak of the conflict, more than half of the Syrian population has been displaced, many of them multiple times. People have lost their belongings and are depending on humanitarian assistance. A mammoth task – also for the German Red Cross.

What a bitter result: In March 2016, five years after the outbreak of the violent conflict in Syria, more than 11.4 million people have become refugees. About 6.6 million of those are now IDPs – Internally Displaced People – people who are refugees within their own country's borders. 

Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

4.8 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries. More than 250 000 people have been killed as a result of the hostilities and countless people have been injured. The number of people who have died from indirect consequences of the conflict-such as lack of or improper medical care, starvation, contaminated water and stress- is unknown.

The situation in Syria has turned into one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since decades – and an end to the conflict is not in sight. According to estimations by the United Nations, by now around 13.5 million people in Syria are permanently depending on humanitarian assistance. This more than 50 percent of the former total population of the country.

Basic need: Survival

Everything is needed that contributes towards meeting the basic survival needs of the population: food, shelter, water, sanitation and basic hygiene measures. The health care systemhas also collapsed to a large extend, medical consumables are scarce and many hospitals have been destroyed. Furthermore, the logistical infrastructure to transport goods and medication to the people in need is lacking. Around 9 million people have no secured access to staple foods. In addition a significant shortage of baby milk and baby food is causing a considerable rise in malnutrition amongst babies and infants.

A state of emergency in the neighbouring countries

Far more than four million people have sought refuge in Syria's neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. There too the situation of the 4.8 million Syrians living in refugee camps, improvised shelters or in urban areas has been deteriorating and the capacities of the host countries have been stretched. Lebanon alone, a country of four million inhabitants, has officially received over 1 million refugees, more than 25 percent of its own population – including unregistered refugees, the number is expected to be even higher.

The German Red Cross is supporting the emergency medical service of its sister national societies in Syria as well as in the neighbouring countries. Furthermore GRC, together with the national societies in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, tries to ensure that the basic needs of refugees and the affected population are covered.

Staff and volunteers of the local Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are exposed to exceptionally high levels of stress and risk in the course of the humanitarian assistance they provide. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent alone has 3.000 volunteers providing emergency assistance and relief. More than 50 of those dedicated volunteers have given their lives while on duty carrying out their work.

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