Canadian international assistance in Syria

Until recently, Syria was like many other middle-income countries. It was relatively stable with a robust economy and popular cultural and heritage sites. It had a well-educated population and relatively strong national administrative and service delivery systems.

That picture started to change in 2011, when the current violent and widespread conflict began in Syria. The conflict has caused extensive infrastructure damage, a collapsed economy, loss of livelihoods nationwide, a social fabric torn to shreds, and hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries. It has also led to the displacement of millions of people (more than half of all Syrians are displaced), making Syria the largest displacement crisis in the world today.

More than 13 million people inside Syria are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance; over six million of these have been internally displaced by conflict. The particularly violent and fluid nature of the conflict has dramatically affected the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance, rendering many communities inaccessible. These communities, lacking access to humanitarian assistance and livelihoods, are left struggling to meet their daily basic needs. Over five million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries (notably Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey), placing immense strains on these countries.

These events have had a significant impact on the long-term development progress achieved by Syrians. By the end of 2016, Syria ranked 149 out of 188 countries on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, down from 113 out of 189 in 2010 before the conflict. Over three in four Syrians are living in poverty, with over half living in extreme poverty.

A disproportionate number of those affected by the conflict in Syria are children and youth who have lost everything—their homes, schools, friends and often members of their families. These children and youth risk becoming a lost generation unless their rights are upheld. Some six million women and girls living in Syria also face an increased risk of violence and vulnerability to abuse and sexual exploitation because of the conflict.

Given the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the dramatic regression in the long-term development prospects facing the Syrian population—not to mention the need to prepare for the eventual reconstruction and recovery effort once hostilities cease and conditions permit—Canada is working closely with the international community to deliver crucial assistance that addresses the immediate, medium- and longer-term needs of the Syrian people. This applies to both those who have escaped the ongoing violence by fleeing to neighbouring countries and vulnerable populations who remain in Syria.

Canada’s strategy in Syria

In February 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s strategy to address the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, including increases over the 2016-2019 period to Canada’s security, stabilization, and humanitarian and development assistance. Complementing Humanitarian assistance efforts in Syria, Canada’s development assistance will help to retain and build skills, systems and community cohesion inside Syria by enhancing livelihoods— particularly for women and youth—and by supporting the delivery of basic services (e.g. education, water, health). These efforts will help to strengthen the resilience of individuals, communities and systems to withstand the crisis and be well-positioned to contribute to Syria’s eventual reconstruction and recovery.

Anticipated results:


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