UNHCR established its presence in Syria in 1991 to respond to the influx of refugees from Iraq. In later years refugees from Somalia and Yemen sought international protection in Syria. By end-2009 more than 1.1 million Iraqis had sought safety in Syria, including 206,000 registered refugees with UNHCR, making Syria the third largest refugee-hosting country globally. With the onset of the crisis in Syria in 2011, UNHCR expanded the scope of its operations to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) across the country in addition to refugees and asylum-seekers.
The decade-long crisis in Syria continues to affect millions of lives. Humanitarian needs and protection risks are increasing. The security situation in parts of the country is unpredictable and the economic situation is dire. According to the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview, some 14.6 million people need humanitarian assistance, a 9% increase from the previous year. Economic deterioration is a major driver of needs.
UNHCR Syria’s response to Syrian IDPs, returnees, refugees and host communities is conducted under the framework of the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. UNHCR has a Country Office in Damascus; three Sub-Offices in Aleppo, Homs and Qamishli; three Field Offices in Damascus, Tartous and As-Sweida; and one Field Unit in Deir-ez-Zor opened in 2021. As of June 2022, UNHCR has around 500 staff in the country including both national and international.