The conflict in Syria dates back to March 2011.

It started out as a peaceful protest, with public demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. But the peaceful demonstrations were met by swift government opposition, eventually giving way to a brutal war.

Today, the conflict is complex and violent. It has become an internationally backed power struggle between government forces and a mix of opposition groups – including so called Islamic State. Reports of war crimes are widespread.

Right now, we’re extremely concerned by an increase in airstrikes in the opposition-held province of Idlib.

Working through our partners we’ve supported 250,000 people fleeing the unimaginable danger with essential aid.

After eight long years of prolonged violence, Syria’s future is as uncertain now as it was when the fighting first broke out.

But one thing remains constant; Syria’s civilians continue to pay the price. The future of millions of families still hangs in the balance.



  • The war has lasted eight years, and counting
  • One in four schools have been damaged, destroyed or used for shelter
  • Over half of Syria’s hospitals are no longer functioning
  • Millions of hectares of farmland have been destroyed or abandoned
  • More than half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes
  • Over 5.6 million Syrians have become refugees*

*OCHA (United Nations Office For The Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs), Syrian Arab Republic, About the Crisis

Life in Syria today

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

The last year has seen a dramatic shift in the power dynamics of the conflict in Syria.

With support from Russia and Iran, the Syrian government has taken back lots of opposition territory around Damascus, as well as parts of the north west and most of the south. Meanwhile Turkey launched an offensive to occupy an enclave in the north west, taking it from the Syrian Kurds.

So called Islamic State has been forced from much of the territory it once controlled. But it still remains a threat and is still capable of launching sporadic attacks across the country.

Kurdish Forces still hold significant territory in the north east, whilst other armed opposition groups still control small areas throughout the country.

Some families are starting to return home to the areas where fighting has ended. But the situation is still volatile, and the level of destruction will present extreme challenges for these families. 


Another increase in airstrikes in the opposition-held province of Idlib has killed or seriously injured innocent people.  

Many civilians and humanitarian workers have been killed so far this month, including women and children. Some of them are sheltering under trees. 

Over 300,000 people have been displaced by the violence so far. While some have left their homes to stay with friends or relatives, others are seeking shelter in camps near the Turkish border.

They are stuck, driven from their homes but unable to leave the country.  

There are fears that if the attacks continue and escalate, they will pave the way for a major ground offensive. This would put up to 3 million people in the path of unimaginable danger.   

How are we helping? 

Families fleeing the unimaginable danger have been supported with tarpaulins and rope, mats, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, solar lights, kitchen sets and water carriers. 


We’re providing shelter for families who have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict in Syria.

Syria faces extreme heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter, so our aid is designed to reduce their vulnerablity to weather and environmental extremes.

When families are far from home, and traumatised from their experiences, having a safe place to call home is invaluable. Our aim is to help vulnerable people who are not being reached by other humanitarian organisations.

Working through local partners, ShelterBox has now supported 50,000 families affected by the conflict in Syria and Iraq since 2012. This makes it the largest, most sustained response in our history. 


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