The World Food Programme

UNHCR managed to accommodate over 4,000 people at Al-Hol Camp who fled the violence in Deir Ez-Zor. ©UNHCR/Syria/2017Areej Kassab.

UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UNHCR started its operations in Syria in response to the displacement crisis inflicted by the first war on Iraq in 1991.  The Iraqi refugee influx was followed by the arrival of Somali refugees in 1992, then Yemeni refugees in 1995.  With the second war on Iraq, over 70,000 to 100,000 Iraqis sought refuge in Syria by the end of 2003.  By 2009, 1.1 million Iraqis had sought refuge in Syria, including 206,000 registered with UNHCR, making Syria at the time the third largest refugee hosting country globally.  UNHCR’s activities encompass provision of life-saving/life-sustaining assistance, mitigation of protection risks and response to protection needs, livelihoods support, winterization assistance, response to the urgent needs of spontaneous returnees, and the preparation for an eventual facilitated repatriation of refugees from neighboring countries, when conditions for return in safety and dignity emerge.

With the onset of the crisis in Syria in 2011, UNHCR expanded the scope of its operations to respond to the humanitarian needs of increasing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), asylum-seekers and refugees, and host communities.  In addition to maintaining its refugee operation in response to the needs of some 55,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the country, UNHCR’s response to the Syria displacement crisis is conducted in the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).  In 2017 alone, UNHCR reached 2.6 million crisis-affected people with community-based protection services; including legal counselling, support on issues of documentation, Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) assistance and Child Protection (CP) activities.  These services were provided through 94 community centres, 10 satellite centres and 58 mobile units; supported by 2,190 Outreach Volunteers (ORVs), operating in 13 governorates.  Through the Shelter/Non-Food Items (NFI) sector it leads, UNHCR provided NFI assistance to 4,288,563 individuals, including 3,381,644 (78%) through UNHCR’s regular program.  Moreover, 1.6 million people were reached with winter assistance.

UNHCR operates in Syria with a workforce of nearly 500 national and international staff through its Country Office in Damascus and Sub\Field Offices in Aleppo, Al-Qamishli, Tartous, Homs, Hama and Sweida, in partnership with 40 national and international NGOs.

Since Oct 2015, Sajjad Malik has served as the Representative of UNHCR in Syria.



UNHCR Syria website:

List of UNHCR Community Centres in Syria:

UNHCR Arabic website:

UNHCR Global photo gallery:

The official website for Shelter and NFI Sector in Syria: