The conflict in Syria

What is happening in Syria and how is ShelterBox responding?

What is happening in Syria?

The conflict in Syria dates back to March 2011.

It started out as a peaceful protest, with public demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. But the peaceful demonstrations were met by swift government opposition, eventually giving way to a brutal war.

Nearly 12 years later, the Syrian conflict has shifted into a seemingly unsolvable crisis, leaving a country scarred by terror and instability. Right now, at least 11 million people have fled their homes.

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12 years of conflict

father carries child and bags in syria

The Syrian crisis has been ShelterBox’s largest and most sustained response in our history. As we approach the 12-year anniversary, over 13 million people have been displaced by the conflict (source: UNHCR).

News of the conflict rarely makes headlines, but it rages on. And the political stalemate means the future is as uncertain as ever. As the fighting continues, millions of displaced Syrians face brutal winters, floods that wash away shelters, financial issues and the additional threat of coronavirus.

Learn how the war in Syria began, who is involved and how families have been affected with our interactive timeline.

See the timeline

What challenges do people face?

Financial crisis

Financially, Syria is on its knees. Currency depreciation and widespread sanctions affect the flow of money coming into the country.

Basics like fuel, food and medicines are now out of reach for people who were already struggling to access them. The cost of a food basket, for example, has increased by 236% in just 12 months.


Coronavirus poses a deadly threat in a country already at war. Syria ranks as one of the worst affected countries in the Middle East, with limited vaccinations and an overstretched healthcare system after years of targeted attacks.

This has a wider impact, such as loss of employment, increasing rates of gender based violence and the restriction of movements of women and girls.

Extreme weather

Syria faces extreme heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter. In February 2021, days of heavy rain caused widespread floods in the northwest of Syria, destroying thousands of tents and soaking families’ possessions.

Without warm clothes, blankets and proper insulation, families have no choice but to group together in shared shelters to ensure they survive the winter.

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How are we helping families?

We are providing shelter for families who have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict in Syria.

When families are far from home, and traumatised from their experiences, having a safe place to call home is invaluable.

More than 400,000 people in the region have received ShelterBox aid since we first responded to the crisis in December 2012. This makes it the largest, most sustained response in our history.

And since spring 2020, ShelterBox has been incorporating items like soap, handbasins and face masks to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

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Young Syrian child holding grey blankets with an orange hat standing in front of a ShelterBox tent

Working with partners

Our partners help us provide aid in some of the most remote and dangerous conflict zones around the world.

In Syria, we’re working with ReliefAid and Bahar Organisation to get our aid to those who need it the most.

But what motivates these extraordinary individuals to risk their lives to deliver aid in such dangerous circumstances?

Meet Farid and find out what life looks like for aid workers in Syria.

Farid’s story

Humanitarian aid workers deliver aid in Syria

Who we're helping

Hamda is just one of the millions of people who have fled the conflict. It broke her heart to say goodbye to her home, ‘it felt so bad to leave my house…it was destroyed, robbed and looted’.

She now lives in a camp for internally displaced people with her children. But Hamda told us that life is very difficult, with temperatures reaching sub-zero over winter.

We were able to provide her family with a tent and ShelterBox filled with essential items. ‘Thank God you have provided us with blankets’.