Syrian Arab Republic - 2020 year-end report - Unmet Needs


The 2020 Multi-Sector Needs Analysis showed a clear increase in the destitution and vulnerability of UNHCR’s people of concern, with 76% of respondents reported being unable to meet basic needs.

The worsening economy and pandemic affected the response capacity of UNHCR and its partners. The rapid depreciation of Syrian pound resulted in inflation across all sectors. The lockdown and border restrictions disrupted production, trade and transportation. Social distancing requirements resulted in the suspension or downscaling of some activities while reinforcing others, especially health related activities. In addition, partners had problems in accessing funds towards the end of the year due to bank liquidity shortages. This caused further delays in implementing planned activities.

As the result of both operational challenges and insufficient funding, UNHCR was unable to expand the network of community centres and the number of outreach volunteers as planned.

One third of schools in Syria are destroyed, damaged or used for purposes other than education. UNHCR was only able to respond to a small proportion of the needs in education infrastructure, with similar limitations in providing school equipment and teacher training.

UNHCR successfully advocated with relevant authorities to exempt people of concern from fines imposed for delayed registration of personal events due to the pandemic. The Decree expired in July 2020, and people of concern often did not have sufficient resources to cover the penalty. The legal assistance programme could not be expanded with more lawyers despite great needs.

Assistance to persons with specific needs could not respond to all the needs for mental health and psycho-social services, nor the rehabilitation support for older persons and persons with disabilities. Over 95,000 people were unable to receive in-kind assistance.

Safe houses for survivors of gender-based violence are not commonly available in Syria. Alternative solutions such as relocation were often not feasible. The lack of resources to hire male case workers meant services provided to men and boys were lacking.

Despite enormous needs in shelter, UNHCR only reached 18% of comprehensive needs. Some 9,000 returnees were not assisted with medicines and health outreach fell short of 90,000 individuals reaching only some 55,259 individuals. Some 7,600 beneficiaries did not receive livelihoods support. In total 70,000 households were not included in UNHCR’s winterization assistance.

UNHCR was able to provide limited cash assistance to refugees. Despite the Cash/Voucher Working Group’s recommendation to increase the minimal expenditure basket due to the currency depreciation and inflation, UNHCR was not able to increase the assistance rate due to limited resources.

In line with COVID-19 requirement for a reduced office presence, UNHCR limited the reception of refugees and asylum-seekers to the most urgent cases. Due to UNHCR’s advocacy efforts, the Government exceptionally granted people of concern with an expired UNHCR ID temporary residence for two months. However, it is unclear whether and for how long this flexibility may be extended. The Office prepared a plan for a partial resumption of registration services as soon as the situation allows (limited registration for urgent cases resumed in February 2021).

Thanks to donor support, UNHCR Syria’s supplementary appeal for COVID-19 was fully funded.