How the UK is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighbouring countries - and how you can help.
The crisis in Syria is gravely concerning. Hundreds of people are being killed or wounded every day and millions have been forced to flee.
Video: See how UK aid is helping Syrians who have fled the fighting
The UK has committed over £600 million to help those affected by the conflict. This is the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. It will provide support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria and to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Support from British public helps save Syrian children from deadly winter (17 April 2014)
More than a million Syrian children have been helped through the coldest months thanks to UNICEF’s Winter Appeal – backed by the UK public, and with every donation doubled by UK aid.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:
The public response to UNICEF’s Syria Winter Appeal was incredibly generous and by matching all donations pound for pound the UK Government has helped bring the total raised to more than £6.4 million.
The support of the British people allowed UNICEF to deliver more than a million blankets and other vital supplies to children caught up in the conflict, keeping them warmer and safer last winter.
Millions of children still face an uncertain future and we must ensure they continue to get the help they need.
Video: UNICEF Ambassador Ewan McGregor thanks UK supporters
Jon Sparkes UNICEF Chief Operating Officer said:
We are so grateful for the fantastic support from the UK public for our Syria Winter Appeal, and to the UK Government for matching pound for pound all donations to UNICEF’s work for Syria’s children.
UNICEF will not rest until we reach every Syrian child caught in this crisis. The support we provide to the children of Syria could shape Syria’s future, and that of the entire region.
Greening: act now for Syrian children (10 April 2014)
International donors must deliver on their promises and not forget the millions of children traumatised by the Syrian conflict who continue to need support, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has warned.
The UK is convening a high level summit in Washington DC tomorrow to underline the critical need for renewed financial and political commitment for the No Lost Generation Initiative. Meanwhile, Britain unveiled an additional £20 million of support for child protection, counselling and education.
UK pledges redoubled efforts to end the Syrian conflict and alleviate humanitarian suffering (14 March 2014)
In advance of the third anniversary of the start of the Syria conflict on Saturday 15 March, Foreign Secretary William Hague and International Development Secretary Justine Greening have issued a joint statement.
Britain leads the way at crucial Syria conference and urges other countries to step up (15 January 2014)
Britain has today pledged a further £100 million to the UN’s latest Syria crisis appeal, the International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced.
Speaking from Kuwait at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, Ms Greening said the UK’s latest commitment reflected the deep concern of Britain towards the worsening plight of the Syrian people.
The unprecedented refugee crisis has meant that the UK has now committed over £600 million towards the Syria crisis, which is 3 times its response to any other humanitarian crisis. This new funding will help the UN meet critical humanitarian needs including schooling for Syrian children.
UK provides schoolbooks for a generation of children in Lebanon (14 January 2014)
An entire generation of schoolchildren in Lebanon will get a boost to their education under a new UK initiative announced today by International Development Secretary Justine Greening during a visit to Lebanon.
The scheme will ensure that every child aged between 6 and 15 who attends state school in Lebanon has a set of textbooks covering key academic subjects. As well as 80,000 refugee children who have fled the fighting in Syria, this will include Lebanese children from host communities who might otherwise be at risk of losing out. Over 300,000 packs of books will be distributed in total.
The Lebanese public school system is under growing pressure to find spaces for Syrian refugee children, as schools are forced to run a shift system where a second school day starts after normal hours to educate twice as many children. Since 80,000 refugee pupils are currently enrolled in Lebanon, every fifth child in school is a refugee.
Step up funding in Kuwait to save lives in Syria (13 January 2014)
The Syria humanitarian crisis will escalate sharply unless the international community steps up with significant new funding at a major United Nations pledging conference in Kuwait this Wednesday, International Development Secretary Justine Greening warned today.
The Kuwait conference is a chance for the international community to provide vital financial support to millions of Syrians in 2014. The UN’s current appeal for $6.5 billion is its largest ever. Justine Greening is calling on European, Gulf and other international leaders to make good on existing pledges and to ensure new funding is sufficient to meet future needs.
The call comes as the UK today announces £30 million specifically to help Syrian women and children caught up in the conflict. This is the final allocation of the £500 million the UK government has pledged to date in response to the Syria crisis. That means the UK has now delivered on all of its funding promises and can focus solely on meeting future needs at the Kuwait conference.
No Lost Generation - Champion the Children of Syria (7 January 2014)
As the Syrian crisis rages on, an entire generation of children is being shaped by violence, displacement and a persistent lack of opportunity – and could be lost forever, with profound long-term consequences for Syria, the region and beyond.
As a nation, the UK has already given £523 million - including many generous donations from members of the public. But even more is needed to cope with the scale of the suffering. We must act now, urgently, to champion the #ChildrenofSyria and to support neighbouring nations.
These children need YOU to be their champion, because the children of Syria are the future of Syria.
Visit the Champion the Children of Syria website to see some of their stories, and add your voice.
UK provides essential healthcare for Syrian refugees (2 January 2014)
Britain will provide mobile clinics, healthcare and emergency surgery for up to 120,000 Syrian refugees caught up in the ongoing crisis, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced.
The new £16 million package will include specialist mental healthcare for people traumatised by the fighting, assistance for disabled refugees and mobile clinics to get aid to for families spread across Jordan and Lebanon.
Further UK support for Syrians hit by winter storms (20 December 2013)
The UK will provide a further £30 million to help Syrians caught up in the ongoing crisis cope with the winter storms and plummeting temperatures that are sweeping the region, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.
Inside Syria, this will see 15,000 blankets distributed and will ensure that at least 30,000 families get essential food rations. It will also deliver hygiene kits to 30,000 households and help to ensure that people displaced by the fighting have access to clean water and basic shelter equipment, including plastic sheeting and ropes to keep off the worst of the elements.
The new support will also help those in need across the region, particularly inside Lebanon where partner agencies including UNICEF and UNHCR will provide protection and shelter for refugees and vulnerable host communities.
Syrian children face third winter of misery, warns Greening (11 December 2013)
Millions of Syrian children face their worst winter yet as worsening weather and crowded refugee camps create the ideal conditions for the spread of life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, International Development Secretary Justine Greening warned today.
The UK will provide winter tents, warm clothing and heaters as part of an allocation of nearly £60 million to help hundreds of thousands of Syrians, especially children, cope with the onset of winter.
More than 8 million people have been driven out of their homes as a result of the fighting and are now either displaced inside Syria or refugees in neighbouring countries. Some have no protection from the elements, as temperatures drop and the threat of heavy rain and snow increases.
Match funding for War Child’s Children of Syria Appeal (10 December 2013)
Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, has confirmed that the UK will match fund all public donations to War Child’s Children of Syria appeal, as part of the UK’s Lost Generation initiative.
The UK is already matching all public donations to ongoing appeals from UNICEF, Save the Children and Oxfam, all of which are aiming to help people caught up in the Syria crisis cope with the winter.
Making the announcement, Justine Greening said:
A generation of children are missing out on an education as a result of this conflict. Many face neglect, exploitation and abuse. Even young children are being sent out to work or beg, while girls risk being sold into early marriage. It’s a terrible situation but we can do something about it.
By matching all public donations to the Children of Syria appeal pound for pound, we will help War Child double its impact in improving the lives of hundreds of children affected by the crisis.
Match funding for Oxfam’s winter appeal for Syrian refugees (3 December 2013)
Oxfam’s appeal to help families affected by the Syria crisis cope with the onset of winter is set to get a boost thanks to match funding from the UK government.
The 12 Days of Giving appeal aims to raise £1 million for the emergency response to the Syria Crisis. All public donations will be matched pound-for-pound to help provide winter support including blankets, gas heaters and plastic sheeting to help protect tents from rain and snow.
Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, said:
Millions of children have had their lives turned upside down by this conflict. They are scared, homeless and traumatised. Many have had their families split up and seen parents and friends killed. Now they are facing another bitter winter.
These children need our support now if they are to become the generation that will help rebuild Syria. Oxfam is getting life-saving help through to them and their families. Now, by match funding all public donations to the 12 Days of Giving appeal, we can double the impact Oxfam can have.
UK backs Save the Children appeal for Syria (24 November 2013)
The UK government has joined up with Save the Children and The Sunday Times to match pound for pound public donations to its Syria emergency fund as part of the newspaper’s Christmas appeal.
Save the Children is helping more than 600,000 refugee children and their families in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq — as well as inside Syria — with food, safe water, medicine and shelter.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening:
As the third winter of the Syrian crisis approaches, millions of children inside the country and in refugee camps across the region continue to bear the brunt of the suffering.
Save the Children is making a real difference in getting help through to those in need. By matching donations pound for pound, we will help double the impact they can have in saving children’s lives.
More support for vulnerable refugees in Jordan (13 November 2013)
The international response to the Syria crisis must not forget the needs of the most vulnerable, International Development Minister Alan Duncan warned today.
Mr Duncan set out how £11 million in British support will help tens of thousands of vulnerable Syrians in the country, including the elderly, disabled and the chronically ill, as well as the most recent refugee arrivals from Syria and vulnerable households in Jordanian communities.
Working with partner organisations including Care, Handicap International, UNICEF and the Norwegian Refugee Council, the UK support will:
- ensure that 7,500 people classified as ‘vulnerable’ are able to access food, healthcare, water and sanitation
- provide physical rehabilitation, prosthetics and mobility aids, and support for carers
- identify unused buildings which can be repaired for use by refugees
- give cash assistance to over 20,000 people, including in overburdened host communities in Jordan, so they can buy essentials such as food, warm clothes and heating
- enable improved water and sanitation for the 120,000 refugees in the Za’atari Camp, including a water treatment plant and extending piped water coverage.
New instalment of support for refugees in Jordan (7 November 2013)
The Deputy Prime Minister has announced that the UK government is to send £18.4 million in aid over 2 years to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to provide vital assistance to refugees in Jordan fleeing the fighting in Syria.
Over the next 3 months, the first instalment of aid will ensure:
- 25,000 people – around 5,000 families - get basic shelter, and that 35,000 refugees get solar lights
- 54,000 people who have newly arrived in Jordan get basic household goods to replace some of those they left behind, including blankets, mats, kitchen sets, water containers and mattresses
- 40,000 people get 3 months of cash support plus 2 cash supplements in advance of winter so they can buy for themselves the things they need most, including food, warm clothing and heating.
UN releases new numbers for displaced people inside Syria (5 November 2013)
The UN has confirmed that there are now approximately 9.3 million in need inside Syria, up from 6.8 million, and that there are approximately 6.5 million people who have been driven out of their homes but who remain inside Syria, up from 4.25m.
International Development Minister Alan Duncan said:
Aid is still not getting through to millions inside Syria who are in dire need because aid workers are coming under attack and life-saving medical deliveries are being blocked.
Never before has access for aid agencies been more critical. This is not asking the impossible. There are practical, meaningful steps from all sides – from agreeing safe supply routes to pauses in the fighting – that will save lives in the short term while moving towards a longer term solution.
UNICEF first partner in new UK drive for Syria’s children (31 October 2013)
The UK government will match pound for pound all public donations to UNICEF’s Syria appeal, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today. The boost comes through the government’s Aid Match system and will double the charity’s ability to help children caught up in the crisis.
This is the first charity partnership in a major new initiative from the government that will provide critical support to charities working to reach Syrian children who are suffering as a result of the war.
The initiative is intended to recognise the level of concern from the British public about the millions of children now in desperate need of help by matching the generous public response to charity appeals.
Lost Generation initiative: match funding opportunity (24 October 2013)
Syria’s children are in danger of becoming a lost generation. Over 3 million have been affected by the conflict, 80% of them under the age of 14. Over 1 million children from Syria are now refugees in neighbouring countries - this is the equivalent of more than 1 in 5 primary school children in England. Their future as well as their childhood is at risk.
As part of the ‘Lost Generation’ initiative (announced on 23 September), we are going to match-fund a number of winter appeals run by UK based charities, focused on the needs of children affected by the crisis.
To find out more about this opportunity and to apply please.
How you can help
Disasters Emergency Committee Syria Crisis Appeal
The best way to help those hit by the crisis is to donate to the DEC appeal.
Responding to the launch of the DEC Syria Crisis Appeal, International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said:
“We welcome the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal to do more for people in desperate need. This conflict continues to cause appalling suffering. Over four million people in Syria are in urgent need of assistance and a million refugees need humanitarian support.
“The British Government has led the international response with medical help, food, shelter and clean water but more needs to be done. Other donors must honour their funding promises and it is time that all parties to the conflict allow humanitarian access to all areas of Syria.”
How the UK is helping
In Syria, UK aid has already delivered:
- £241 million of assistance to help people affected by conflict, including in opposition held and contested areas
- Food for over 188,000 people per month through our partner the World Food Programme
- Shelter and relief items to over 305,000 people affected by the violence
In neighbouring countries, British support has already provided:
- £263 million of assistance to help Syrian refugees and host communities in the region
- Safe drinking water and sanitation services (toilets and latrines) to almost 100,000 people in Jordan and Lebanon
- Shelter and essential relief item supplies for more than 84,000 people
For all the figures on what UK aid is being spent on and where, download our factsheet.
Views from the field
Facts and stats
- 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria
- Over 6.5 million people have been driven out of their homes by the fighting to other areas of Syria
- There are now over 2 million refugees in neighbouring countries
- Total UK humanitarian funding committed to the response is £500 million to date
- Our humanitarian assistance is provided through neutral and impartial agencies and is wholly separate from UK support for the opposition.
- All UK funding is going to humanitarian agencies with a proven ability to operate in Syria and neighbouring countries
- The UK remains at the forefront of international efforts to support an effective response, led by the United Nations.
Related government links
- News: Syria chemical weapons attack
- Article: Helping the people of Syria in their time of need
- Press release: Largest ever UK disaster response for Syria crisis