Briefing notes

Syria: Displacement in the northwest
Created: 09/05/2019 +


Conflict between the Government of Syria (GoS) and armed opposition groups has intensified since the beginning of 2019, and escalated since 28 April, in northern Hama governorate and southern Idleb governorate, causing a wave of displacement. Some 152,000 people have been displaced between April 29 and 5 May, the majority into northern Idleb and northern Aleppo. Military operations have caused a high number of civilian casualties. The humanitarian situation in the affected governorates is deteriorating, with ongoing clashes, airstrikes, and shelling. The majority of IDPs live in makeshift settlements and report acute multi-sectoral needs

Syria: Rapid displacement in the south
Created: 04/07/2018 +


Escalation of hostilities between the Government of Syria and armed opposition groups have been ongoing since 17 June in Dar’a governorate, driving displacement within Dar’a and into neighbouring governorates. As of 2 July, over 270,000 people have been displaced, including at least 164,000 to Quneitra and 60,000 to the areas near Jordanian border. Urgent humanitarian needs, including shelter, food, WASH, and health, are reported, particularly in the areas bordering Jordan and Golan Heights. Fighting has resulted in casualties, disruption of services, and very limited humanitarian access.

Syria: Displacement in the Northwest
Created: 22/01/2018 +


Conflict between the Government of Syria (GoS) and armed opposition groups has intensified since November 2017 in northern Hama governorate, southern Idleb governorate, and southern Aleppo governorate, causing a wave of displacement. Some 212,000 people have been displaced since 15 December, the majority into central and northern Idleb. The humanitarian situation in the affected governorates is deteriorating, with ongoing clashes, airstrikes, and shelling. The majority of IDPs live in makeshift settlements and report acute multi-sectoral needs.

Syria: Conflict in Eastern Ghouta
Created: 15/11/2017 +


Approximately 426,000 people living in besieged Eastern Ghouta are affected by protracted conflict and recent deterioration of access restraints. Despite the area being the part of the de-escalation agreement, the government forces renewed their airstrikes and shelling as of the end of September, which resulted in damage and loss of civilian infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. Clashes between armed groups controlling different parts of the territory compound the situation. The highest level of besiegement is reported in majority of the communities as of November, which results in severe shortages of food and medicine, leading to increasing cases of acute malnutrition. 

Syria: Displacement in ar Raqqa
Created: 09/06/2017 +


The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) campaign to retake areas of ar Raqqa governorate currently under IS control has been ongoing since November 2016. The operation is supported by airstrikes by the US-led coalition. On 6 June, the SDF entered ar Raqqa city from the eastern neighbourhood of al Mashlab. The campaign has generated considerable, mostly short-term displacement. As of end-May, over 205,000 had been displaced, mostly within ar Raqqa governorate. IDPs residing in organised camps and makeshift settlements have irregular access to food, drinking water, and sanitation facilities, as well as health services. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar needs among those still in IS-held ar Raqqa city. 

In the last year, IS has been pushed back both in Iraq and Syria, losing large areas, with the offensive to take over the IS stronghold in Iraq, Mosul, currently entering its last stages. For more information on the situation in Mosul, see the ACAPS briefing note Iraq Displacement from Mosul and Tal-Afar. 



Thematic reports

Humanitarian Access Overview
Created: 02/05/2019 +


We looked into nine indicators to rank and compare the humanitarian access levels worldwide. Affected populations in more than 50 countries are not getting proper humanitarian assistance due to access constraints. Humanitarian access has deteriorated in Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia over the past six months. 13 new countries entered the ranking since the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access report released in August 2018. Physical constraints and restriction/obstruction of access to services and assistance are the most common challenges.

Humanitarian Access Overview
Created: 09/08/2018 +


This report compares current humanitarian crises based on their level of humanitarian access. Affected populations in more than 40 countries are not getting proper humanitarian assistance due to access constraints. Out of 44 countries included in the report, nearly half of them are currently facing critical humanitarian access constraints, with four countries (Eritrea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen) being considered as inaccessible. Moderate humanitarian access constraints are an issue in eight countries, and 15 face low humanitarian access constraints.

Humanitarian Overview: an analysis of key crises into 2018
Created: 30/11/2017 +


Humanitarian Overview 2018 examines major humanitarian crises worldwide to identify likely developments and corresponding needs. The report focuses on countries where the crisis trend indicates a deterioration in 2018 and a corresponding increase in need. It also includes countries where crisis is not predicted to worsen, but is likely to remain severe: Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, Sudan, and Syria. Across these countries, food security, displacement, health, and protection are expected
to be the most pressing humanitarian needs in 2018. 

Movement back to Syria: scenarios
Created: 19/09/2017 +


ACAPS and the Mixed Migration Platform have produced a new set of scenarios, outlining possible developments in Syria and neighbouring countries over the next nine months.

Following scenario-building workshops, five scenarios were identified:

1. Insecurity in Syria continues; low-level movement to Syria
2. Insecurity in Syria continues; movement to Syria increases
3. Security in Syria improves; movement to Syria increase
4. Insecurity increases; movement to Syria decreases
5. Sudden mass movement back to Syria

The report outlines triggers that could drive these scenarios, as well as the impact and humanitarian consequences of each scenario.

Crisis Overview 2016: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2017
Created: 01/12/2016 +


The Crisis Overview 2016: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2017, outlines the countries where needs are greatest, and growing, as we approach the end of 2016.

Based on our weekly Global Emergency Overview (GEO), and four years of data on humanitarian needs across 150 countries, we have identified ten countries where humanitarian needs are likely to be highest in 2017, as well as four that merit attention, as they face a potential spike in needs. We also consider the humanitarian situation in the northern triangle region of Latin America, where the wide-ranging humanitarian impact of pervasive gang violence is chronically underreported.

Crisis Overview 2015: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2016
Created: 22/04/2016 +


The Crisis Overview 2015: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2016, outlines the countries considered to be in greatest humanitarian need as we approach the end of 2015.

Based on our weekly Global Emergency Overview (GEO), and three years of data on humanitarian needs across 150 countries, we have identified eleven countries where humanitarian needs are likely to be highest in 2016, as well as seven that merit attention, as they face a potential spike in needs. A final section considers the potential impact of the current El Niño event across a number of regions.



SNAP: Summary of Work
Created: 18/04/2016 +


The Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP) started in December 2012, as a collaborative project between ACAPS and MapAction, aimed at bring together available information on humanitarian needs in the Syria crisis. At the time, information-sharing and publications on the humanitarian situation were extremely limited; in this context, SNAP’s initial goal was to help create a shared situational awareness among humanitarian actors, which in turn would contribute to a better-targeted and more needs-based response and improvements in the situation of crisis-affected populations. Over 2.5 years, SNAP has pursued these goals with a combination of independent information products, technical support and capacity building for humanitarian assessments. At the end of 2014, the project name was changed to Strategic Needs Analysis Project, to reflect the growing need for regional and whole-of-crisis analysis following the declaration of an L3 crisis in Iraq. The project closed at the end of June 2015.

Estimated Areas of Control as of 31 May 2015
Created: 18/04/2016 +


This map is intended to provide humanitarian actors with a regularly-updated picture of which groups control territory in Syria, in order to facilitate an estimation of the obstacles that may be faced in program operations. Due to the limitations of available data, it is not comprehensive, and should be used to complement, not replace, information from the field.

Explosive Remnants of War and Landmines
Created: 15/04/2016 +


While the physical and humanitarian impacts of explosive weapons, such as mortars, missiles, barrel bombs and IEDs, have been highly visible and documented throughout the conflict in Syria, the unex-ploded remnants of these weapons and landmines have received limited attention but will have long-term implications. In the immediate term, people are killed and maimed, with children making up nearly half of the victims globally. Furthermore, survivors require specialised services that are not available or accessible within Syrian’s public health system, which has been brought to near collapse. Even decades after a conflict has ended, the presence of ERW will negatively affect people’s ability to move freely, return and rebuild their homes, resume their livelihoods and begin to recover. The intensive use of explosive munitions on high-density urban areas and information limi-tations throughout the conflict means that it will take decades of rigor-ous clearance efforts, as ERW are buried among rubble and debris. Beirut and Sarajevo experienced similar ERW contamination in urban areas; the latter city required 8-9 years of clearance efforts, although explosive weapons were used at relatively lower levels compared to Syrian cities. Over time, ERW and landmines will also migrate due to flooding or erosion, particularly in soft, sandy soil, thereby further spreading the contamination risk.

Relief Actors in Syria
Created: 15/04/2016 +


This thematic report outlines the diverse range of actors currently working within Syria to provide humanitarian assistance. For the purpose of this report, assistance refers to all types of support given to people in need. The report provides an overview of the different groups of actors, their characteristics, capacity and limitations.

Needs Assessment Lessons Learned: Assessment of the Humanitarian Situation in Syria and Countries Hosting Refugees
Created: 14/04/2016 +


This thematic report provides an overview of available lessons identified from assessments undertaken concerning the humanitarian situation in Syria as well as the situation for Syrian refugees in host-countries. This report is based on conversations with individuals from different organisations working in the region. The document does not intend to provide a comprehensive list of all the issues that should be taken into account while conducting an assessment, but rather provides a starting point for organisations planning an assessment in Syria or the host countries. For more guidance on how to conduct an assessment please see the key resources at the end of this report.

Syrian Border Crossings
Created: 14/04/2016 +


The border policies of Syria’s neighbouring countries have fluctuated regularly due to the security situation, political developments and the increasing number of refugees. This has caused uncertainty among those try-ing to flee and international responders. Some people try-ing to leave have been trapped inside Syria due to border restrictions, and at the border with Turkey this has led to the establishment of several IDP camps.

Given the various restrictions imposed by the governments of neighbouring countries, irregular and unregulated move-ment of refugees across borders is reported to be wide-spread. The legal status and rights of individuals exiting Syria may be compromised when they enter a country via an unofficial crossing.

Movements across borders also involve the smuggling of goods (food, fuel, medicines etc.), weapons and the move-ment of armed personnel.

Widespread information gaps persist in relation to border areas. The limited access of humanitarian organisations to border areas and scarcity of information hampers under-standing of the situation on the ground and the scale of population movements. The proliferation of armed groups in Syria and the fluid nature of territorial control lead to fur-ther ambiguity of the situation and challenges for move-ment of population into safer areas.

Some border crossing points are in remote, hard to reach and insecure areas making it more difficult for those forced to flee by foot to reach a host country.

Impact of the Conflict on Syrian Economy and Livelihoods
Created: 14/04/2016 +


This thematic report outlines the impact of the crisis on the economy and livelihoods in Syria. It covers the impact from a macroeconomic perspective, including the impact on GDP and Government budget as well as the consequences for international and national trade. In addition, it provides an overview of the livelihoods of Syrians and explains how they have changed as a result of the deteriorating economic and security situation.

Legal Status of Individuals Fleeing Syria
Created: 14/04/2016 +


By June 2013, over 1.6 million people fled Syria in search of protection and access to essential services. Their legal status is primarily governed by the laws of the host country where they reside. The legal framework applicable to asylum seekers and refugees differs significantly between countries and different laws apply to different groups of people. In Lebanon for instance, the situation varies significantly between Syrians and Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS). As a result of this complexity, individuals fleeing Syria are often unaware of their rights and obligations.

Overall, the people fleeing Syria can be divided into 3 different groups, depending on their status in the host-country:

  • Those residing in camps;
  • Those who have the appropriate papers and are therefore regularly residing in a country; and
  • Those who are irregular, meaning residing in a host country without the required documents.

While these 3 groups are not mutually exclusive, the level of access to services and protection differs between the different groups.