Syria situation


Over 12 million Syrians remained forcibly displaced in the region, including almost 6.8 million within the Syrian Arab Republic and 5.4 million living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

Aisha stands in the snow in front of her flooded tent in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which is home to more than 215,000 Syrian refugees.
Aisha stands in the snow in front of her flooded tent in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which is home to more than 215,000 Syrian refugees. © UNHCR/Houssam Hariri
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2022 Year-end population figures 

  • Refugees in neighbouring countries (including Türkiye): 5.4 million  

  • IDPs: 6.8 million  

  • Refugee returns in 2022 alone: 51,300 

  • IDP returns: 255,100 

  • Stateless persons: 160,000  

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2022 situation overview

The Syrian Arab Republic crisis remained one of the largest displacement crises in the world in 2022. Over 12 million Syrians remained forcibly displaced in the region, including almost 6.8 million within the Syrian Arab Republic and 5.4 million living as refugees in neighbouring countries, a slight decline from 5.7 million in 2021. After more than a decade of generously hosting refugees, neighbouring countries suffered multiple crises in 2022 which led to significant increases in poverty for refugees and deteriorating living conditions for host communities. Lebanon suffered a deep socioeconomic crisis, recording inflation of 186%, while the annual vulnerability assessment of Syrian refugees showed that 90% of refugee families were living in extreme poverty and in critical need of humanitarian assistance, with increasing mental health problems and psychosocial distress.

Inside Syria, over 14.6 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, a 9% increase from 13.4 million people in 2021. The economic situation significantly deteriorated in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the devaluation of the Syrian pound, rising inflation, hikes in fuel prices, frequent electricity cuts and sanctions. Many people lost their livelihoods or no longer earned enough to support their families. For the first time, Syrians living across every sub-district in Syria experienced some degree of humanitarian stress. Internally displaced people (IDPs), many of whom have been displaced multiple times, suffered the most, with basic services and critical infrastructure on the brink of collapse. In addition, Syria hosted around 18,700 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Iraq.

In Syria, UNHCR addressed significant humanitarian needs by supporting IDPs and returnees through multisectoral assistance, such as providing core relief items and seasonal in-kind assistance to over 1 million people. Unhcr strengthened community-based protection such as providing catch-up classes for over 61,000 children, child protection activities for almost 9,000 children, primary health care for almost 760,000 people, and support to around 6,600 survivors of gender-based violence. UNHCR and partners also provided identity documents to 1.8 million returnees and legal assistance to almost 294,000 IDPs and returnees, for instance to register births and marriages. Unhcr focused on community mobilization and building self-reliance to reduce vulnerabilities and protection risks. This involved providing services through community-based structures and networks supporting 127 community and satellite centres and 121 mobile units in all 14 Governorates of Syria and engaging around 2,900 outreach volunteers to strengthen its protection activities. As part of the whole-of-Syria response, UNHCR was the lead agency of the protection, shelter and non-food items (NFI) sectors and in North-West Syria UNHCR led the protection, shelter and NFI, and camp coordination and camp management clusters response. People living in North-West Syria continued to receive life-saving humanitarian assistance through the cross-border response from Gaziantep (Turkiye), following the renewal of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2672 until 10 January 2023.

Syrian refugees continued to require access to territory, international protection and support in countries of asylum within the region during 2022. In supporting Syrian refugees staying in neighbouring host countries in the medium term, UNHCR worked to expand local opportunities and solutions, co-leading with UNDP the regional refugee and resilience plan (3RP). The 3RP framed a large-scale multi-sectoral response, coordinating the work of more than 270 partners addressing the needs of 7.1 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 4.3 million impacted host community members. The 3RP supported national-led efforts in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and
Turkiye, connecting the response with longer-term national strategies for inclusive growth and sustainable development. The 3RP strategic directions are 1) protecting people; 2) supporting durable solutions; 3) supporting dignified lives; and 4) enhancing local and national capacities, guided by the principle that no one is left behind.

In 2022, UNHCR distributed $208.5 million in cash assistance to around 3.5 million vulnerable Syrian refugees, helping to meet basic needs and mitigate harmful coping mechanisms such as reducing food consumption and child labour. 111,500 Syrian refugee families also received shelter support. 4.2 million Syrians and vulnerable host community members received primary health care services, and 222,500 survivors of gender-based violence received case management support, psychosocial support and other specialized services. 1.5 million Syrian refugee children were enrolled in national primary and secondary education and 155,300 Syrian children were provided with child protection services. To respond to the cold and harsh winter months, 1.8 million Syrians received cash assistance and/or core relief items such as blankets and winter clothing to keep warm.

Durable solutions for Syrian refugees are based on a comprehensive protection and solutions strategy seeking to:

  • support host country and community resilience;
  • enable refugee self-reliance, including access to services, legal work opportunities and livelihoods;
  • expand access to resettlement in third countries and other complementary pathways, and;
  • plan for the return of refugees to Syria, on a voluntary basis, when conditions for a safe, dignified and sustainable return are in place.

Resettlement remains the most viable durable solution for Syrian refugees and a demonstration of solidarity and responsibility-sharing with host countries by the international community. In 2022 UNHCR identified over 610,000 Syrians in need of resettlement, representing the population with the highest global resettlement needs. Based on resettlement places offered by third countries, UNHCR submitted more than 37,100 individual cases for consideration by the resettlement countries. 22,800 refugees departed a significant increase from 2021 when some 17,500 Syrian refugees departed for resettlement from the region. A variety of complementary pathways programmes to third countries ranging from employment and education opportunities to family reunification were also supported in the region to help facilitate refugees' access to solutions.

UNHCR considered that conditions were not yet in place for large-scale voluntary returns in safety and dignity. Refugee returns to Syria from neighbouring countries were expected to fluctuate and refugees decisions on returning were significantly affected by safety and security issues inside Syria. In 2022, UNHCR registered 51,300 returns, an increase from 38,000 in 2021, but still low in absolute terms. UNHCR's regional return intention survey in June 2022 found that while 58% hoped to return to Syria one day, down from 70% in 2021, only 1.7% planned on doing so in the next 12 months, down from 2.4% in 2021. Respondents noted safety and security, livelihood opportunities, and housing and basic services as key barriers to return.

UNHCR provided multisectoral support where spontaneous refugee and IDP returns took place and engaged with the government of Syria to advocate for legal, administrative and other measures to address obstacles to return. UNHCR adopted an area-based approach inside Syria, to support sustainable reintegration and recovery. This included practical interventions in areas such as shelter, protection services including legal aid and civil documentation, distribution of relief items, and restoration of basic services.

UNHCR continued its work on the prevention and reduction of statelessness in the region by identifying and protecting stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness, which resulted in some positive outcomes. For example, through the capacity-building of national authorities to facilitate birth registration, the percentage of Syrian refugee children born in the region without any identity documents was significantly reduced; only 4% of Syrian refugee children lacked birth documents in 2022. Progress was also made in facilitating marriage registration procedures and increasing women's access to civil documentation.