A path through rubble and destroyed buildings

Syria Crisis

Syria Crisis

Rubble and destroyed buildings in Al-Bab, Syria, in March 2013. Image: Basma

i X

Key achievements

finance icon

£27 million

raised for this appeal

humanitarian aid icon


people reached with humanitarian aid



people reached with safe water and sanitation services

food icon


people reached with food assistance

Two years of war had devastated the lives of many Syrian families and had left more than 9 million people in need of aid.

When the DEC launched our appeal in March 2013 the situation in Syria was dire. Two years of war had left more than 9 million people in need of humanitarian aid. At that time, about 1.2 million houses had been damaged, with 400,000 totally destroyed and an estimated 6.5 million people were displaced inside Syria, with a further 2.5 million people having fled to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.


  • Syria was a middle income country of 20 million people before the war.
  • It was ranked 116th in the UN’s Human Development Index out of 186 nations. 
  • In early 2011 there were anti-government protests in Syria in the wake of a series of revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa.  The protests were suppressed and a number of demonstrators were shot dead. What started as an anti-government protest quickly evolved into a full-fledged civil war. 
A man looks into a tent next to flood water

A Syrian refugee looks into a tent near Amman, Jordan in November 2013. The tent was abandoned by a family after the area was flooded by rain water and sewage. Karl Schembri/Oxfam


  • 9.3 million people in need of aid within Syria
  • 6.5 million people internally displaced within Syria
  • 2.5 million people fled the country, seeking refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and North Africa.
  • Over 4 million people in need of food
  • Over 100,000 civilians killed
Michael Palin on the DEC's Syria Crisis Appeal video

The Syria Crisis Appeal with Michael Palin

Watch BBC Syria Crisis Appeal - Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) on YouTube.


  • The Syrian humanitarian response is largest ever in monetary terms with the UN asking for 1.5 billion to help people in Syria and the region during 2014. 
  • The DEC launched its appeal on 21 March 2013 and, despite huge challenges and real dangers, DEC member agencies have helped over 300,000 in the first six months of the response. Of those helped, the vast majority - 86% - were inside Syria itself.
Aid workers fill a large water tank

Oxfam staff fill a 95,000 litre water tank in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan in May 2013. Image: Karl Schembri/Oxfam

Our appeal raised an amazing £27 million, which allowed DEC member charities to reach more than 900,000 people within Syria and in the surrounding countries. 

Within Syria in the first stages of the response, members concentrated on delivering food assistance and water and sanitation services, alongside basic health care and psychosocial support for children and families. In the first six months alone, food parcels were delivered to over 19,000 families, and improvements to water systems brought safe clean water to over 28,000 people. 

Refugees who had been forced to flee Syria were also provided with aid across Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. There, the greatest need was in helping people to rebuild their lives and establish a livelihood. Cash grants were given to families to help them establish new small businesses, and programmes were set up to improve relations between refugees and those living in host communities.  

Red Crescent volunteers carry a patient on a stretcher in Homs, Syria. Image: SARC

Bringing aid to Syria presented unique challenges

Because of the extreme volatility of Syria during this time, bringing humanitarian aid to the people who needed it within the country presented unique challenges and dangers. The risk of being detained, or even killed, meant that DEC member charities needed to keep a very low profile.

"In the past two years we have lost 17 volunteers," wrote Khaled Erksoussi of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in March 2013. "So we’ve paid in blood for our independence and our care for humanity. We have been harassed by all parties. We have volunteers in detention right now."

Existing community leaders, especially faith leaders, were instrumental in helping us deliver aid across the country. Despite the challenges, DEC members and their local partners brought life saving aid to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children inside Syria.


Find out more about how donations were used by DEC member charities and what lessons were learned from this response.


for the Syria Crisis Appeal. Thank you!