Entering the seventh year of the crisis, the scale, severity, and complexity of needs across Syria remain overwhelming. Some 13.1 million people in Syria require humanitarian assistance. Of these, 5.6 million people are in acute need due to a convergence of vulnerabilities resulting from displacement, exposure to hostilities, and limited access to basic goods and services. Conflict continues to be the principal driver of humanitarian needs, with the civilian population in many parts of the country exposed to significant protection risks which threaten life, dignity and wellbeing on a daily basis.
Despite some reduction in the level of hostilities in certain parts of the country, notably through some of the de-escalation agreements (for more information on the specific deescalation agreements/areas, please refer to p.34), and a reduction in the number of UN-declared besieged locations, sustained or increased violence in many other areas has affected the lives of countless civilians. In 2017, people in Syria continued to bear the brunt of the hostilities in the absence of a political solution, with sustained violence contributing to the world’s largest displacement crisis. Similar to last year, some 1.8 million population movements occurred in the first nine months of the year alone, with many people believed to have been displaced multiple times. Of the 5.5 million Syrian refugees worldwide, most of whom remain in neighboring countries, a very limited number have returned to Syria. In 2017, an estimated 721,647 people returned to their areas of origin. While the number of self-organized spontaneous returns has slightly increased from 2016 levels during the first nine months of 2017 (20 per cent), the overall conditions for safe, dignified and sustainable returns are not yet in place in many parts of the country. Against the disruption caused by prolonged hostilities and extensive displacement, access to services as well as livelihood opportunities remain scarce. People’s ability to cope is therefore strained and ultimately inhibits their ability to meet basic needs.