A seven-year-old girl pours water on her father’s head to help him relieve the summer heat. IOM, through its partners, regularly supplies water to IDP camps in northwest Syria. Photo Credit IOM


The Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), António Vitorino, is raising alarm over the scarcity of funding for humanitarian operations required to support millions of Syrians and their host communities in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Attended by the IOM Director General, the Brussels conference taking place on 14-15 June, represents a significant opportunity to collectively show solidarity and commitment to the people most affected by the Syria crisis.

Twelve years since the beginning of the crisis, Syria remains one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with 6.6 million people displaced inside the country and at least 5.3 million registered refugees in neighbouring countries. In 2023, IOM appeals for USD 98 million to support 1.9 million individuals inside Syria and USD 108 million to support 817,500 refugees and their host communities.

“The Syrian people and their host communities have shown remarkable resilience throughout the protracted conflict,” said Director General Vitorino. “They need the continuous financial support and solidarity of the international community.”

“Whilst the number of people in need continues to increase, especially in the aftermath of the earthquakes in February, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) remains only 11 per cent funded for this year.”

With a staggering 15.3 million people requiring humanitarian assistance, representing nearly 70 per cent of the population, the Syrian people continue to face daily challenges in meeting the most basic needs.

The 6 February earthquakes added unimaginable strains on people who have been suffering through twelve years of conflict, economic collapse, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a cholera outbreak.

Mustafa is one of many displaced in northwest Syria, who managed to overcome the difficulties he faced. Despite his physical disability, he continued to find ways to earn an income and support his family. He had the opportunity to attend an IOM business management training and received a grant which helped him open his own fruit and vegetable shop.

"We lived in a better situation before the conflict broke out in our village, but the grant and opportunity to start my own business gave my family a new chance to build a decent life,” says Mustafa.

The 2022 Refugee and Resilience Response plan (3RP) assisting refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries also witnessed the lowest funding level with 39 per cent of the appeal funded in 2022, compared to 46 per cent in 2021.

In 2022, IOM appealed for more than USD 233 million to support the most vulnerable individuals in Syria and neighbouring countries. With USD 69.53 million raised from donors across the world, IOM and its partners were able to support more than 2.1 million people. Support ranged from the provision of lifesaving assistance such as shelter, food, water and healthcare, to increasing access to basic services, livelihoods, education, legal aid, psychosocial support, and fostering social cohesion.

IOM and partners began their emergency response within hours of the earthquake. Teams were able to dispatch the first IOM truck across the border into Northwest Syria three days later - making it the first UN Organization to restart cross-border assistance. As of 9 June, IOM had dispatched 343 aid trucks across the border.

Across hosting countries, the needs of refugees and host communities are deepening. Supporting livelihoods for host communities and refugees remains a critical priority, particularly given the mounting economic challenges.

Amid the ongoing deterioration of the economic situation in Lebanon for example, IOM has delivered cash for work opportunities to help struggling households meet their basic needs, and delivered microgrants, and grants to local businesses to support longer term livelihoods and create much-needed job opportunities. This was made possible through support received from the Republic of Korea, the Qatar Fund for Development, and Japan.

IOM also supports vulnerable refugees in Jordan by providing vocational training and grants for startups and small businesses, including the economic empowerment and resilience programme funded by the Government of Kuwait.

IOM facilitated the resettlement of 23,688 Syrian refugees to 19 countries in 2022 from Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, bringing the total number of refugees resettled since the start of the Syrian conflict to over 279,000 to 40 countries. This includes complementary protection pathways, such as humanitarian admission, family reunification and intra-EU relocation.

“IOM, alongside humanitarian partners, urges the international community to step up efforts, turn words into actions, and stand in solidarity with all those affected by e crisis in Syria,” added DG Vitorino.

For more information on IOM’s plans and funding requirements, please check IOM’s appeals for the Syrian Arab Republic Crisis Response Plan 2023 and Syrian Regional Refugee and Resilience 2023. You can also read out IOM achievements report for the Syria crisis in 2022 available here.


Source: UN / International Organization for Migration

WorldCon 75, Scott Lynch; photo by Jana Blomqvist


WorldCon 75, Robin Hobb; photo by Jana Blomqvist


Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016