The violent conflict has forced some 12 million Syrians to flee their homes. Eight million are internally displaced; four million have fled across the borders, the majority of whom have found refuge in the neighbouring countries. Delivering relief is exceptionally complex due to the conflict’s long-term nature.
Swiss Solidarity and its partner relief organizations are endeavouring to run projects both in Syria and the neighbouring countries which meet the needs of the beneficiaries in the best possible manner.
In Syria, the relief organizations are working in the most adverse conditions. Gaining access to the affected population is extremely difficult. These circumstances make it impossible to deliver relief beyond urgently needed survival aid in the form of food distribution programmes.
In Syria’s neighbouring countries, the dimensions and longevity of the crisis pose a major challenge to aid organizations. Relief that is normally focused on the short term has now been on-going for several years. Both the partner organizations and Swiss Solidarity are striving to ensure continuing and consistent support to prevent the abandonment of the suffering population.
Three quarters of all refugees live outside the refugee camps; scattered in informal camps, with relatives, host families or in rented accommodation. They are often unable to settle due to their status, financial circumstances and the ever-changing situation. This in turn often makes it difficult to provide long-term assistance.
Despite these enormous challenges, Swiss Solidarity’s partner relief organizations have been able to launch 47 highly effective projects with the 19.5 million francs donated so far. These programmes offer medical and psychosocial support to the traumatized, food aid and support in finding and paying for rental accommodation.
Beneficiaries of the cash assistance projects are given a debit card that is loaded with regular money transfers, allowing the recipients to set their own priorities as needed. Most use these funds to pay for food, medication or rent.
In order to avoid tension with the local population and where beneficial, the partner relief organizations are integrating the host families into their projects or supporting communities, which are under considerable strain due to the large number of refugees, with infrastructure projects.
In the face of the devastating tragedy unfolding in the Mediterranean, it is evident that providing assistance in Syria and the neighbouring countries is crucial, even if this aid can merely alleviate rather than resolve the refugees’ desperate predicament. A political solution is the only way of offering the millions of victims a better future.