Aisha, a young Syrian girl, stands outside her family's tent in Lebanon while snow falls around her.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Syrians are exhausted and traumatised after 13 years of war. Please donate now to send emergency aid to families who have nothing left.

“Never have I seen such levels of deprivation and desperation. It is unconscionable that so many people have been left with so little for so long. They need and deserve much more support.” 

 Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Every day is an emergency for Syrians, with over 12 million displaced by the ongoing war.

The earthquakes that struck near the Türkiye-Syria border in February 2023 only brought more suffering for families that have endured crisis after crisis.

  • Almost 15 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance
  • 3 in 4 households are unable to meet their basic needs
  • 2.5 million Syrian children are out of school, with 1.6 million more at risk of dropping out

Countries such as Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have generously hosted Syrian refugees for years. But these countries are facing their own economic pressures. Now, Syrian refugees are being pushed even deeper into hunger and poverty. 

“For me, it is not a matter of dignity anymore, it is a matter of survival."

Khadra, a Syrian refugee and single mother in Lebanon, relies on UNHCR's cash assistance to cover some of her necessities, including bills, rent and food.

Khadra, a Syrian refugee and widow, eats with her daughter-in-law and grandchild in their home in northern Lebanon.
© UNHCR/Joelle Abou Chabke

Khadra's story

Khadra, a 50-year-old widow and Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, is forced to search through the garbage for something to feed her family - usually rice and bulgur wheat. It's often rancid and infested with mites.

"I take it outside, under the sun, then I add salt," she says. "I go through it grain by grain. I pick out the worms and the pebbles. In the end, I cook it for my children."

Sometimes, if she's lucky, Khadra can cook with the fat the butcher throws away. When she has a little money, she buys stale bread, softening it with water.

Khadra lives in an informal refugee settlement in northern Lebanon, sharing one room with her five sons, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. She currently owes three months' rent and lives in constant fear of eviction.

Every year, life gets harder for Khadra. Lebanon, which hosts the largest number of refugees per capita, is facing an economic crisis. With prices skyrocketing, many refugee families are unable to afford the simplest foods, like rice and potatoes - in fact, 90 per cent rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

Khadra receives cash assistance from UNHCR, which she spends on gas for cooking. She struggles to cover her other expenses - rent, food, water, medicine. Adnan, her 15-year-old son, works long hours selling tissues on the street but only earns about $3 per day.

Please donate now to send urgent aid to Syrian refugees like Khadra.

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.

"My due date was 15 February. However, the earthquakes on 6 February made me scared and anxious, which caused preterm labour."

Baby Khodor spent his first weeks in an emergency shelter. Please donate now to send help to Syrians who have endured crisis after crisis.

UNHCR staff members talks with a Syrian mother who went into preterm labour soon after the earthquakes struck.
© UNHCR/Saad Sawas

About Syria Crisis

What is the Syrian refugee crisis?

After 12 years, Syria remains the world’s largest refugee crisis. More than 5.3 million Syrians are still displaced as refugees abroad, while 6.8 million Syrians are displaced inside their own country. The vast majority of refugees have sought protection 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. More than a decade on, the number of Syrian refugees has hardly declined and almost 15 million people need humanitarian assistance. 

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 impact

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