Official Statistics

Providing non-humanitarian assistance in Syria

Updated 1 December 2015


Supporting efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria; alleviating humanitarian suffering; and protecting UK security by tackling extremism and getting rid of Assad’s chemical weapons.

The Syrian National Coalition (the political leaders of the Syrian moderate opposition) are the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. They have a democratic and pluralist vision for Syria. Since the start of the revolution, we have been at the forefront of providing the Syrian moderate opposition with practical and political support.


Ending the conflict is strongly in the UKs national interest. It poses a growing threat to UK, regional and international peace and security. Syria is a breeding ground for terrorists. The world also continues to bear the financial and human costs of the conflict as we attempt to alleviate the intense humanitarian suffering. We are:

  • Working closely with a range of actors who make up the Syrian moderate opposition - including the Syrian National Coalition and the Interim Government – local councils, NGOs, civil society, media and Human Rights activists
  • Helping the National Coalition to build its capacity as an institution to meet the needs of the Syrian people and to represent their interests
  • Supporting the National Coalition’s Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) to improve its capacity to identify needs and deliver services to civilians inside Syria
  • Providing life saving equipment for moderate armed units and local councils in Syrian moderate opposition controlled areas
  • Providing capacity building for civil society, Human Rights and media activists
  • In partnership with other international donors, providing training, technical assistance and basic equipment to the Free Syria Police
  • Training and equipping civil defence teams to carry out search and rescue work
  • Providing governance and capacity building for local councils to develop, improve and sustain the delivery of basic services to meet needs of constituents they serve

UK funded projects

The UK government is working closely with a range of actors, including the Syrian National Coalition and the Interim Government, local councils, NGOs, civil society, media and human rights activists, to support the Syrian people in their efforts to protect themselves against Assad’s brutality, find a political solution to the conflict and prepare to rebuild their country in the post-Assad era. Our efforts since 2012 include providing:

  • over £67m of support to the Syrian opposition
  • over than £3m to support the elimination of Assad’s chemical weapons, and
  • over than £29m to reduce the impacts of the conflict on the region

All figures below shown are approximate funding envelopes.

Search and Rescue: £15m

To date, there are over 2700 volunteers in 110 civil defence stations across northern Syria, trained and equipped with help from UK funding to carry out search & rescue, fire-fighting and First Aid. The “White Helmets” as they are more commonly known have saved over 30,000 lives since March 2013. A number of the UK trained 25 man teams are now delivering training for new civil defenders across Syria including a growing number of women. To see them in action, follow them on their Twitter feed or their Facebook page.

White Helmet worker carrying a child in Syria
White Helmet worker surrounded by a collapsed building
Civil defenders rescuing children following a bomb dropped by the Assad regime in July 2015.

Security and Justice: £8.2m

We are working with other international donors to establish and build up the Free Syrian Police (FSP), a moderate police force in opposition-controlled areas in Syria. We are providing training, technical assistance, maintenance funds and basic equipment. The programme supports the development of greater community oversight and monitoring of the police to help ensure they are responsive to local needs in providing basic rule of law, building community resilience to counter the threat from extremist groups. This work has already helped establish some 80 police stations in opposition-controlled areas of Syria. Their impact on the ground can be best seen through a documentary they have produced “At Your Service”.

At Your Service.

Members of the Free Syria Police taking part in the Assistance Coordination Unit’s polio vaccination campaign
Members of the Free Syria Police (wearing their UK funded uniforms) taking part in the Assistance Coordination Unit’s polio vaccination campaign in May 2014.

Chemical Weapons: £3.1m

The UK has contributed towards the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, including armoured vehicles to protect inspectors on the ground and also part-funded the destruction of Chemical Weapons.

Moderate voices, Civil Society and Human Rights: £12m

We have supported work with moderate Syrian voices, local councils and civil society groups within Syria to increase community engagement in addressing local conflicts. This support also extends to Track II political dialogue and peace building work outside of Syria between different representatives of the Syrian community. Furthermore, religious and community leaders from the Sunni, Allawite, Christian, Druze, Armenian and Kurdish communities have also been trained in active citizenship and dialogue skills to help reduce community tensions. For the third consecutive year, this includes peace education, interfaith coexistence and reconciliation training inside refugee camps.

Syrian human rights activists are being given the training and tools necessary to promote accountability via the collection of forensic and other evidence of human rights abuses, including of sexual violence for future use in criminal proceedings. UK-funded projects are also building the capacity of civil society, media, local councils and a range of other key stakeholders to support transitional justice and good governance. This is what some of them had to say.

This is what some of them had to say.

Media activists: £5.3m

More than 300 Syrian journalists and activists have received training in order to help develop an independent Syrian media. Reports and stories on issues including women’s rights, human rights and civic education are reaching an ever-larger audience through radio, the distribution of magazines and regional television stations. UK funded projects are helping to establish a network of independent media outlets across Syria, whose work has included sending out messages about personal safety after the regime’s chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and, more recently, reporting produced by civil society groups and the likes of the “White Helmets” across Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Assistance Coordination Unit: £5.6m

We are supporting the National Coalition’s Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) to improve its capacity to identify needs and deliver services to civilians inside Syria. This includes the provision of technical advisory support and assistance with running costs. As part of building delivery capacity, we provided over £3m of equipment to the ACU to supply to Local Councils. This included solar powered generators, water purification kits and search & rescue equipment.

Governance and service delivery: £15.1m

We are working with local and provincial councils, the Syrian Interim Government and civil society to improve and sustain the delivery of basic services to meet needs in opposition and besieged areas. This is being done through bilateral and multi-donor funding instruments, the latter through the Syrian Recovery Trust Fund. With our support, communities receive a range of assistance to sustain and increase agricultural production, provide education and health services, carry out local level infrastructure repair as well as build capacity of local councils. Successes so far have included restoring water supplies, repairing roads, establishing projects for solid waste management and saving significant parts of wheat harvests.

Syrian National Coalition: £3.8m

We are helping the National Coalition to build its capacity as an institution, to meet the needs of Syrians and to represent their interests. We have provided embedded advisers, training and logistical support to the National Coalition’s Secretariat and Media Centre in Istanbul and to its international offices in Washington and New York. In the run-up to the Geneva II negotiations and during the political process, we offered dedicated negotiation and communications support to the Coalition to help ensure the best possible outcome for Syrians.

Moderate armed opposition: £4.4m

The UK has delivered life-saving equipment to the Moderate Armed Opposition (MAO) in Syria, including communications, medical and logistics equipment. In addition, we have provided equipment to protect against chemical weapons (CW) attacks, including 5000 escape hoods, nerve agent pre-treatment tablets and CW detector paper. We have also funded Law of Armed Conflict training to help commanders train their fighters to understand their responsibilities and obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

Impact on the wider Region: £29.3m

The UK is providing a major package of equipment and training to the Lebanese Armed Forces to help them better manage the security of the border with Syria. The Jordanian Armed Forces have also taken delivery of a UK equipment package to help manage the increasing number of refugees crossing their border.

Peace-building projects within Lebanon and Jordan are working to improve relations between communities, particularly those affected by the influx of refugees. In partnership with local government, local police forces, civil society groups, local and Syrian community leaders, projects are working to reduce tensions and the potential for community level conflict and ensuring youth participation.

In Lebanon, a mine action survey addressing demarcation and Mine Risk education needs for locals and Syrian refugees has been carried out with UK support.