Women walking with UNHCR box. UNHCR distributes solar lights to female-headed families in Aleppo region, Syria.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Millions of Syrians require help after eleven years of war. 

“Families spoke of years of suffering, and they are exhausted. Yet I also witnessed their strength and determination to rebuild their lives.” 

 Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Syrian families remain trapped in extreme poverty, exhausted and traumatised by more than a decade of conflict and upheaval.

More than 13 million people are displaced, either inside Syria or in neighbouring countries.

Inside Syria, more than three-quarters of households are unable to meet their basic needs, and food insecurity is at record highs, with millions of people going hungry every day.

In some areas, fighting has abated, but people are unable to return home as buildings and utilities have been destroyed and landmines continue to pose a significant threat.

Countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have generously hosted Syrian refugees for years. But these countries are facing their own economic pressures. 

Nawal is a Syrian refugee and a mother of five living in Jordan. She became the sole provider for her children after her husband passed away.

Cash assistance from UNHCR has helped with crucial supplies to keep her family safe and warm.

“I can’t describe my feelings. Winter assistance will provide mercy for us.”

Nawal, Syrian refugee living in Jordan

Syrian refugees in Jordan receive UNHCR winter cash assistance.
© UNHCR/Mohammad Hawari

Samar’s story

57-year-old Samar, a widow and mother of nine, returned to her home city of Deir-ez-Zor eight years after she fled along with hundreds of thousands of other residents.

Three-quarters of the infrastructure in eastern Syria’s largest city was damaged or destroyed during years of conflict.

When Samar saw her house for the first time since returning, she could barely recognise what remained of it. The doors and windows were all gone, and the roof and walls were badly damaged. 

UNHCR repaired Samar’s home, and installed water and sanitation equipment.

The repairs have given Samar and her children some much-needed stability and comfort while they try to re-establish themselves.

“My husband built this house with his own hands,” Samar says. “The only thing that makes me happy is that I am [back] living in my house and my neighbourhood, with the memories of my life with my husband and my children.”

“We had to cover the windows and doors with plastic sheets. The children were freezing in winter, and we had to collect wood to burn in the cold evenings.”

Samar, widow and mother of nine

UNHCR helps returning Deir ez-Zor residents rebuild lives from the ruins in Syria.
© UNHCR/Vivian Toumeh
Cash Assistance

Your gift can provide cash assistance to help families cover basic survival costs like rent and medicine.

Essential Items

Your gift can provide essential items like mattresses, blankets and kitchenware.


Your gift can rehabilitate schools to provide children with a brighter future.

With support from donors like you, UNHCR and its partner rehabilitated the school that 10-year-old Nour attends in rural Homs.

For Nour, this means pursuing her dream of becoming a surgeon one day.

Nour attends a primary public school rehabilitated by UNHCR in Syria.
© UNHCR/Saad Sawas

About Syria Crisis

What is the Syrian refugee crisis?

After 11 years, Syria remains the world’s largest refugee crisis. More than 6.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee conflict in their country since 2011 and another 6.9 million people remain internally displaced. The vast majority have found refuge in neighbouring countries, primarily in Türkiye, Lebanon and Jordan. Germany is the largest non-neighbouring host country, with more than 620,000 Syrian refugees.

When did the Syrian refugee crisis start?

The Syrian refugee crisis is the result of civil war, which broke out in March 2011, and forced millions of Syrian families to flee their homes. Eleven years later, the number of Syrian refugees has hardly declined and more than 13.4 million people still need humanitarian assistance - including 5.9 million who are in acute need.

How can I help the Syrian crisis?

You can help refugees fleeing Syria and internally displaced people by making a donation or fundraising for us.

Our fundraising commitment

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs