Syrian crisis, evolution and humanitarian crisis
first months of 2015 the war in Syria has entered its fifth year. The Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights states that the war has caused around 200,000 direct victims and another
200,000 have died due to the inaccessibility to medical care or medicines. Intense
conflicts continue in Syria and political solutions do not seem underway in the
short term. 12.2 million persons are in conditions of extreme vulnerability and
need humanitarian assistance in Syria, among whom 5.6 million are children.
Practically half of the Syrian population have left their homes: 76 million are displaced, of whom more than 4
million have sought refuge in Syria’s neighboring countries – 3.9 million are
registered at the UNHCR assistance program – and only 218,000 have been able to
present an asylum request in Europe.
The ongoing war
in Syria has affected everyone indiscriminately and has had a profound effect on
the Syrian social strata: the crisis has affected the poor of urban and rural
areas, without sparing the urban middle class, completely distorting the lives
of families of workers, teachers and employees who overnight found themselves
forced to abandon their homes and lose all their belongings. "Syria has
entered the age of darkness, literally and metaphorically" commented the
former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, following a recent analysis of
satellite images showing that the number of visible lights during the night in
Syria has decreased in recent years by 83%, reaching peaks of 97% in Aleppo.
humanitarian crisis in Syria could possibly be divided in four distinct moments
A first period, between the spring of
2011 and mid 2012, whereby the street protests moved on to open conflict, thus
starting the displacement of people within Syria, from the areas initially affected
by the conflict towards areas considered more peaceful .
A second period, more or less between mid 2012 to the end of 2013, in which, with
the expansion and intensification of the conflict, many of the internally
displaced persons started to reach Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, thus acquiring
the status of refugees. The wave of refugees and internally displaced persons has
been such so as to have determined the highest displacement of populations
since World War II.
In the third period, which
started indicatively in January 2014, the governments of the host countries began
to strongly denounce to the international community the great social and
economic challenges that the presence of the refugees determined. The high
number of Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries has had a strong impact
on the already delicate demographic balance of the region, in terms of infrastructure
and public services. Added to this are the economic and social costs related to
the competition on the labor market created by the low cost Syrian labor force
and the substantial increase in the cost of living. These factors have and are
fueling a growing unease between the hosting and refugee communities. This is
especially true in Lebanon, where the crisis acquires a particularly
destabilizing effect on the already fragile balance on which the delicate
political- religious structure of the country is based.
We can think of a fourth
period, starting roughly around the second half of 2014, characterized by a
gradual closure of the borders and, consequently, by a decrease of the number
of entrances in Lebanon and Jordan. Whilst in Jordan and Lebanon the number of
refugees has thus stabilized, inevitably the number of displaced persons within
Syria and the number of refugees on Turkish territory are increasing, further aggravating
the complexity and severity of a humanitarian crisis without precedents. According
to OCHA, about 9,500 Syrians become displaced every day, at an average rate of
one family per minute. Only during the months of July and August 2014, it is
estimated that about 600,000 people were displaced as a result of the fighting
against the "Islamic State", to which must be added the families returning
to Syria (about 100,000 people) due to the deteriorating security situation in
Iraq and Arsal, in Lebanon. More than half of the internally displaced
population is constituted by children, about 4.3 million of them are in dire
need of food, shelter, medicine and psychological support. The children have, and
still are witnessing experiences of extreme violence: more than 10,000 young lives have been lost as
a direct result of the conflict.
The Palestinians residing in Syria are particularly
affected by the conflict: approximately 50% of the 540,000 Palestinians
registered at UNRWA are displaced whilst 79.4% are in dire need. Of particular concern is the situation of
about 18,000 Palestinian refugees resident in the camp of Yarmouk (the main
Palestinian refugee camp in Syria), where UNRWA has recently been able to reinstate
some food and medical aid support, considering that until July of last year the
camp was inaccessible due to the conflict.
Since the end
of 2012 until now, Italy has contributed to the Syrian crisis response through
a disbursed budget of about 66 million
euros (plus 18 million to be
allocated), of which 37 million were
donated in 2014. Such resources have
allowed the implementation of more than 100
initiatives addressed to the distribution of primary goods,
including activities of child protection and food assistance.
Stabilization activities have also been implemented through the carrying out of
works in the municipalities affected by the large flow of refugees. The activities
have also included the rehabilitation of schools and public services, therestoration of road conditions, waste management and improvedaccess to drinking water.