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.

More than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country and over 3.9 million have become refugees, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

Video: See how UK aid is helping Syrians who have fled the fighting

UK aid at work in the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan

The UK has now committed £800 million to help those affected by the conflict. This is the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. This funding is providing support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria, as well as to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

Factsheet: The UK’s humanitarian aid response to the Syria crisis

Latest news

Fourth anniversary of Syria crisis (14 March 2015)

In advance of the fourth anniversary of the start of the Syria conflict on Sunday 15 March, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

After four years of fighting in Syria, every day brings new stories of horror and suffering, of lives lost, families torn apart and children robbed of a future. We are at risk of losing an entire generation to the conflict.

The UK has provided lifesaving water, shelter, medical help and other essential aid to more than a million people in Syria and across the region. Humanitarian aid saves lives, but only a political solution can resolve the crisis.

Aid agencies must get the access they need to save lives. This anniversary must focus the attention of the world to find a political solution.

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British school teachers visit Jordan (13 March 2015)

British teacher Keith Coughlin, visiting a school in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Picture: Russell Watkins/DFID
British teacher Keith Coughlin, visiting a school in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Picture: Russell Watkins/DFID

On the fourth anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict, a group of British school teachers visited Jordan this week to support teachers and school children affected by the conflict.

The British Council organised the visit as part of the Connecting Classrooms programme.

15 teachers from UK schools joined 15 teachers from Jordanian and Lebanese schools with significant populations of Syrian refugee children.

The teachers visited Jordanian schools that host refugee children, and went on to visit a school in Zaatari refugee camp.

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Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with Jordan as UK pledges new support for Syria crisis (8 February 2015)

Britain will stand shoulder to shoulder with Jordan as the country continues to play a pivotal role promoting stability in the region, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said today as she announced a further £100 million of assistance for the Syrian crisis.

Justine Greening and The Prince of Wales at a WFP supermarket in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Picture: WFP/Joelle Eid
Justine Greening and The Prince of Wales at a WFP supermarket in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Picture: WFP/Joelle Eid

The International Development Secretary made the commitment during a visit to Jordan with HRH The Prince of Wales almost four years since the conflict in neighbouring Syria began. During the visit they met Jordan’s King Abdullah II and visited UK-funded projects in the Za’atari refugee camp.

More than 600,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since the start of the conflict and now make up almost 10 per cent of Jordan’s population. The Za’atari camp alone hosts 80,000 people.

The new support will help host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq deal with the extra pressures they face from the number of refugees fleeing across the borders from Syria. It will also support people affected by fighting inside Syria by providing food, medical care and relief items.

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World must invest in Syria’s young, says Greening (23 September 2014)

World leaders must make a major investment in the next generation of Syrians to provide them with better opportunities and a viable alternative to extremism, International Development Secretary Justine Greening urged today.

The International Development Secretary made the call at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, where she announced £100 million in new UK funding for Syria and neighbouring countries. This brings the UK’s total response to the Syria crisis to £700 million.

Speaking from New York, Justine Greening said:

“In the last few days tens of thousands of Syrians have fled into Turkey to escape ISIL extremists, a further reminder of just how volatile the situation in Syria remains. As needs continue to grow, the world’s generosity must keep pace.

“The rise of ISIL is a chilling reminder that we cannot allow this to become a forgotten crisis. Syria and its neighbours stand at a crossroads. We must show the children and young people of the region that there is an alternative to the bloody narratives of ISIL and the regime - a future of hope not hatred.”

Read the full statement

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Justine Greening responds to first UN cross-border aid convoy into Syria since new Security Council Resolution (25 July 2014)

International Development Secretary Justine Greening has welcomed the UN’s first cross-border aid convoy into Syria since UN Security Council Resolution 2165 was passed last Monday, backed strongly by the UK.

Justine Greening said:

The Syrian regime has consistently refused to allow aid deliveries across its borders from neighbouring countries, denying more than a million people desperately needed food, water and medicine.

Earlier this year, Britain took the decision to step up cross border operations in defiance of Syrian regime restrictions and lobbied vigorously for the Security Council resolution agreed last Monday. This green light means the UN has now made its first cross-border aid delivery, an incredibly important and welcome first step.

Read the full statement

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Greening pledges new UK help from Syrian border (5 July 2014)

The UK will boost cross-border aid operations into Syria with more than £46 million of new help for civilians in hard to reach areas, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced following a visit to the Turkish border with Syria.

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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

UNICEF Ambassador Ewan McGregor thanks UK supporters for their help

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.

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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.

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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.

Read the statement

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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.

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Read Justine Greening’s speech at the Kuwait pledging conference

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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.

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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.

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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.

Under the umbrella of #NoLostGeneration, the UK, UNICEF and other partners are galvanizing the global coordinated effort it will take to protect the futures of these children.

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.

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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.

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Previous announcements (2013)

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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.

Donate to the DEC Syria Crisis 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.”

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How the UK is helping

In Syria, UK aid has already delivered:

  • £249 million of assistance to help people affected by conflict, including in opposition held and contested areas
  • Food for over 210,000 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:

  • £292 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.

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Facts and stats

  • 12.2 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 3.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries
  • Total UK humanitarian funding committed to the response is £800 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.

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