Syrian crisis

The Syrian crisis

The violent conflict in Syria has sent the region into the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the United Nations was founded.

Particularly affected countries

Estimates made by human rights organisations indicate that heavy fighting across large parts of the country has already claimed more than 300,000 lives and left 1.2 million people injured and has led to massive flows of refugees, with the number of internally displaced persons now standing at 6.3 million (as at January 2017). At present, 13.5 million people in Syria are dependent on humanitarian aid.

More than 4.8 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. The countries most affected are Jordan (population: 7.6 million; registered refugees: 655,000) and Lebanon (population: 5.8 million; refugees: more than one million). Other countries that have taken in refugees are Turkey (about 2.8 million refugees), Iraq (229,000 refugees) and Egypt (115,000 refugees). A regional overview of the Syrian refugee groups compiled by the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR can be found here.

Assistance for people affected by the conflict

Since 2012, the German government has provided a total of more than 2.79 billion euros in response to the crisis. This makes Germany the third-largest bilateral donor. 1.3 billion euros of this amount has come from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). This means that Germany has continuously been one of the largest donors. The BMZ's activities respond to needs and comprise a broad range of actions.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the German Development Ministry has provided significant assistance to the people affected by the conflict, mainly through activities in three neighbouring countries – Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

These projects are being implemented by UN agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), KfW Development Bank and numerous non-governmental organisations.

Sectors that are being addressed include education and training, the protection of children, food security, and municipal infrastructure (especially water supply and sanitation). In addition, the BMZ supports efforts to build the capacity of civil society, assist municipal authorities in opposition regions, foster employment, generate income, and provide vocational training. Targeted support is also being given to political dialogue processes.

Within the EU and the United Nations, Germany is advocating for even stronger efforts with regard to hosting refugees in Europe and for improved coordination among member states and stronger support for host countries.

At the London Syria conference in February 2016 (see below), the German Chancellor made a pledge for a total of 2.3 billion euros in assistance. 850 million of this is being provided by the BMZ. The BMZ is using this funding, in cooperation with other donors, to give refugees in the region a better future. The focus is on giving people access to education, fostering economic development in host countries and creating employment opportunities, and giving Syrian refugees access to the labour markets of their host countries.

Further information on German support for Syrian refugees can be found here.

Examples of German programmes

Basic education in Lebanon

Lebanon's education ministry has launched a country-wide programme to provide improved access to basic education for both Syrian refugee children and needy Lebanese children. One of the organisations involved in the implementation of the programme is UNICEF, as part of its No Lost Generation initiative. Germany is a significant contributor to this education programme.

Better living conditions in Iraq

In Iraq, support from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) has helped to set up 18 refugee camps for up to 50,000 people each in the Province of Dohuk alone, and there are plans for further camps. On behalf of the BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is working in the camps and is supporting local authorities in setting up infrastructure facilities.

Water supply in Jordan

Since the civil war began, more than 650,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan. One major problem is the provision of drinking water for these refugees, as water is extremely scarce in Jordan. The German government has therefore significantly increased its funding for the Jordanian water sector since 2012.

Sanitation in Jordan

More than half of the Syrian refugees in Jordan are school-age children. The existing school buildings cannot accommodate so many additional children, and many of them lack the sanitation facilities to cope. The BMZ is therefore providing funds for a programme specifically designed to improve the sanitation and hygiene situation in overcrowded schools.

Civil Peace Service in Lebanon

The Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD), with support from the BMZ, has been setting up projects that will give Lebanese citizens and incoming Syrians the opportunity to get to know each other, thereby breaking down prejudices. Among other things, the projects sponsor the training of community mobilisers, whose task is to mediate in conflict situations.

Water-wise plumbers in Jordan

In Jordan, 40 per cent of all water is lost on its way to consumers. The pipe network is in urgent need of improvement. That is why the BMZ is supporting the training of "water-wise plumbers". The aim is to help reduce water loss in households and give both local people and refugees new employment opportunities.

Syria conference

The participants of the London Syria conference pledged more than ten billion euros for the response to the refugee crisis in Syria and in the region. Germany was the country that made the largest individual pledge, 2.3 billion euros. 850 million euros of that amount came from the BMZ's budget.

Development Minister Gerd Müller applauded the pledge, calling it a "strong signal", but also called on all players to deliver on their promises. "Only about 50 per cent of the commitments made at previous conferences were actually met," the Minister said, noting that this must not happen again.

The increase in international funding is hoped to improve living conditions for people within Syria and in its neighbouring countries. Refugee children in the region are to be given access to education, and employment opportunities are to be created for Syrian refugees in Syria's neighbouring countries. In the long term, this is hoped to reduce the drivers of displacement and make it a viable option for people to stay within the region.

One key contribution from Germany is an employment programme. Its purpose is to create, by 2017, up to 500,000 jobs for refugees and locals in the region while simultaneously supporting the construction of schools, hospitals and community centres through cash-for-work programmes.

The Syria conference was co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations. They had agreed to jointly organise this donor conference in order to address the severe shortage of funding for the UN aid agencies working in Syria and in neighbouring countries.