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Syria conflict at 5 years

Five years on, Syria’s conflict has spawned 4.8 million refugees in neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands in Europe, and 6.6 million people displaced inside Syria against a pre-war population of over 20 million.

As Syria’s war reaches another grim milestone today, refugees fleeing the 5-year conflict face greater hurdles to finding safety while international solidarity with its victims is failing to match and reflect the scale and seriousness of the humanitarian tragedy.

While there are recent glimmers of hope with increased humanitarian access in Syria, the cessation of hostilities, renewed peace talks and promises of better funding, the 5th anniversary of Syria’s war comes amid a backdrop of increasingly managed borders by neighbouring countries, creaking under the strain of hosting so many refugees. This is leaving thousands of vulnerable people stranded inside Syria, unable to leave the country.

Displaced children play as smoke rises from an explosion in a suburb of Daraya, in rural Damascus, Syria. ©UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Further afield, European states which once welcomed Syrians are now bringing down the shutters in the wake of increasing numbers of refugees seeking safety there. Several countries have imposed entry and border restrictions, leading to a build-up of tens of thousands of refugees in Greece, while the European Union is in discussions with Turkey on an agreement that could potentially see asylum-seekers sent back to Turkey.  Meanwhile, refugees in countries neighbouring Syria are more vulnerable than ever and taking increased risks to survive – embarking on dangerous journeys to Europe or resorting to dangerous survival strategies such as child labour, early marriage or sexual exploitation.

Four years on the area still resembles a ghost town. Only 3,000 of the area’s 80,000 residents have returned, most living in damaged and half destroyed homes. © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

The crisis in Syria is the largest humanitarian operation in history. After 5 years of conflict, refugees fleeing conflict have greater challenges to finding safety and Syrian children are losing their childhood.

They need your help! Please make a donation today and help UNHCR provide essential emergency supplies such as food, shelter, blankets, water and healthcare. You can help make a difference and it brings HOPE.



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.