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The Syrian civil war has cost the lives of more than 400,000 people since its inception in 2011, and has led to the worst refugee crisis in recent history. According to the United Nations, about 5.1 million Syrians were registered refugees in Syria's neighboring countries as at the end of 2015. A further 6.3 million people are internally displaced inside Syria. Around 18 million people have remained in the country, and of these, 13.5 million are thought to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011 brought thousands of Syrians to the streets to peacefully protest against the Ba’ath regime that had dominated the country for around half a century. Following the jailing of some school children for painitng anti-regime graffiti in March 2011, demonstrations in the southern city of Deraa were met with brutal reactions from regime forces. What began as peaceful protests then escalated to a full-scale civil war.

Severe challenges for international aid

A confusing array of groups are now party to the conflict. Air strikes by external actors have resulted in an unprecedented scale in the destruction of social infrastructure in the country, while the growth of Islamism and the territorial expansion of IS has contributed to the suffering of the civilian population. The poor security situation and a series of targeted attacks on foreign aid workers have made it almost impossible for international aid organizations to work in Syria.

Malteser International has been working to provide aid to the people of war-torn Syria since 2012. Millions in the country are either unable or unwilling to leave their country, and these displaced people are the focus of our work with Turkish and Syrian partners to organize and support cross-border medical aid projects. The difficult security situation in Syria makes working there very difficult, and the staff of our partner organization live in the shadow of constant danger.

Medical aid in the Aleppo region:

Syria is in its sixth year of civil war, and and despite local ceasefire agremments and continuous negotiations in Geneva and Astana, a political solution to the conflict remains elusive. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation for many civilians remains has degenerated to one of extreme fragility.

The conflict has also had a disastrous effect on the country's development. Since the beginning of the conflict six years ago, Syria has experienced a regression in its development by almost four decades, and negative trends across all 12 indicators recorded in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As at the end of 2013, an estimated three out four Syrians were living in poverty, with 54 per cent of the remaining poplution living in extreme poverty.

Of the health infrastructure that existed in Syria before the war, only 40 per cent is functional, 30 per cent of all schools have also been destroyed.
Since 2011, the primary, secondary and tertiary health care in the country have steadily deteriorated both quantitatively and qualitatively. This has been due to frequent attacks on health facilities, lack of energy supply, and a glaring lack of medicines, consumables and health care personnel.

  • Improving access to primary and secondary health care
  • Quality specialist health care for children
  • Rehabilitation of health infrastructure


1 hospital in Bab al Salam
2 basic health care centers in refugee camps
2 mobile clinics
1 mobile operation container
1 production center for medical oxygen
2 central blood banks
2 ambulances

Reconstruction and operation of 4 basic health care facilities in former IS-held territories
(Azaz, Jarablus, Al Bab)

Payment of salaries for a newly opened paediatric hospital in Gandoura.


Janine Lietmeyer
Email: janine.lietmeyer(at)malteser-international.org

Country info

Capital: Damascus
Area: 185,180 km²
Population: approx. 18 Million

Project donors: German Federal Foreign Office (AA), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany's Relief Coalition (ADH)

Last Updated: July 2017

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