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A civil war has been raging in Syria since March 2011. It has led to today's greatest humanitarian disaster: According to the United Nations (UNOCHA), 6.2 million Syrians are displaced in their own country. In Syria, a total of 11 million people depend on humanitarian aid. At least 5.6 million others have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, which places a huge burden on social cohesion as well as on public services in the host countries. The humanitarien needs of the host communities are also increasing. The coronavirus pandemic, the almost complete collapse of the fragile Syrian economy and the political and economic crises in Lebanon further aggravate the situation.
Multiple displacements, destroyed livelihoods, as well as lack of access to services and everyday necessities have led to extremely difficult living conditions in Syria, but also in Lebanon. Insecurity and the lack of long-term prospects drive people, after a decade of conflict, to the brink of exhaustion.
Since April 2012, Caritas Switzerland has carried out vital emergency aid projects with its partner organisations in Syria and the neighbouring countries and continues to do so. It has also continually expanded its work in the areas of education and income generation. Millions of children have no access to good quality education. The longer the Syrian crisis continues , the more important it is for people to be able to find ways of generating an income so they do not become permanently dependent on emergency aid. Caritas combines short-term assistance with long-term development cooperation to increase sustainability.
Cash assistance and education
The people in Syria are fighting for survival. Caritas Switzerland has provided emergency relief since the beginning of the crisis, above all to meet basic needs. It currently supports families in cities such as Aleppo or Homs with cash assistance. They receive monthly payments for 6 months and are cared for by social workers. Furthermore, local partner organisations are strengthened.
Due to the war, there has been a massive increase in school drop-out rates and interrupted education. In the Eastern Ghouta region, which has been particularly hard hit by the war, Caritas is rebuilding destroyed schools and providing psychosocial and learning support. Caritas is also providing cash assistance to prevent children from having to drop out of school for financial reasons.
Emergency aid and sustained poverty reduction
No country in the world is hosting more refugees per capita than Lebanon. The school system, the labour and housing markets are at their limits. Political and financial crises as well as the explosion in Beirut in August 2020 have further and critically aggravated the situation.
Caritas Switzerland is supporting Syrian refugees as well as Lebanese in need. Caritas helps people in acute medical emergencies to pay for hospital costs and provides psychological support.
With coachings, trainings and financial support for internships and business start-ups, Caritas also helps young people gain access to sustainable employment despite the crisis.
Since 2012 Caritas Switzerland has provided aid for the victims of the Syrian war amounting to a total of more than 71 million Swiss francs (including projects which are currently running). Around 790,000 people have benefited from the aid until the end of 2021. Swiss Solidarity, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation (ECHO) support the Caritas projects, amongst other donors.