Operating in Syria since 2008, DRC was authorized by the Government of Syria in 2012 to respond to the needs of the conflict-affected population as a result of the conflict. The programming works to serve IDPs, host communities, refugee and returnees in order to ensure their needs are met and engages with relevant duty bearers in various ways. While the Government of Syria is the core duty bearer in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is DRC’s main operational partner. SARC is responsible for coordinating all of DRC’s, and all other INGOs, humanitarian interventions inside Syria, and is responsible for facilitating the required approvals for DRC to work in certain areas. DRC also has sub-MoUs with the Ministry of Local Administration (MoLA), the Ministry of Education (MoE), and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour Affairs (MoSAL).

DRC is the largest INGO inside Syria, operating through Damascus. However, the provision of humanitarian aid is vastly inadequate to address the scale of needs. And there continues to be significant gaps in geographic coverage, sectorial responses, and assistance to vulnerable groups.

DRC Syria Interventions

Given the scale and protracted nature of displacement in Syria, DRC has adapted its response modalities and operational presence to access IDPs and vulnerable host communities through its shelter response and through support to local partners for the dispatch and distribution of NFIs. The protection, education and livelihood programmes support the resilience of displacement affected households, community and institutions.

DRC’s remained focused on meeting lifesaving, immediate needs of conflict affected populations in Syria, through the provision of integrated and principled humanitarian assistance, services and advocacy. At the same time undertaking programming that aims to improve the quality of life and supports transitional solutions for people who now find themselves in a protracted displacement situation. This approach involved working with both IDPs, returnees and host communities in order to strengthen cohesion and collective resilience.

In 2017, 16,726 IDPs, refugees and affected host communities benefited from programmes that included languages and literacy courses, life skills, and recreational activities. In addition 2,423 children were supported by interventions including after school education support clubs, and an educational programme specifically targeted at children with special needs. During 2017, DRC provided individual legal counselling to 5,883 beneficiaries. In addition, 8,379 beneficiaries received legal Interventions before the courts as well as administrative interventions before the relevant governmental institutions.

Legal awareness sessions were also provided to 2,723 beneficiaries in the form of awareness raising campaigns, targeted at most urgent needs such as lost documents, customary marriage, property, domestic violence and birth registration and lineage. DRC child protection teams delivered services to a total of 5,900 children including the provision of recreational activities, individual counselling of vulnerable children, and awareness raising sessions on child protection concerns and referral to specialized services.

In partnership with the MoE and MOSAL, DRC reached a total of 788 beneficiaries including IDPs, refugees, and the host community through its livelihoods interventions. This included provision of varied interventions including vocational training, marketing and business skills training, employability work ethics training, business plan development, internships, business incubation, and the provision of micro grants to help people restart their entrepreneurial activities. DRC supported beneficiaries to enter a diverse range of courses, which include accounting, barbering, carpentry, maintenance, and electronic device maintenance. In addition, livelihood counselling, undertaken in partnership with the MoE and MoSAL, started during 2017.

DRC Syria Strategic Focus

DRC will focus on consolidating its operational presence in Syria and expanding humanitarian assistance programming, where access allows, into eastern Syria including rural areas where emergency needs are expected to surge. DRC will aim to continue to respond flexibly to the most urgent emergency needs as they arise. DRC interventions will also aim to enhance the prevention and mitigation of protection risks though the increased use of mobile teams to swiftly identify protection needs, accompanied by the establishment/ strengthening of referral mechanisms, expansion of legal awareness and counselling on civil documentation. Efforts will also be made to strengthen multi- and inter-sectoral cooperation and response with livelihoods, education and shelter to improve outcomes.

During 2017 and 2018, DRC Syria has received financial support from DFID, ECHO, DANIDA, NMFA, SIDA, EC, OFDA and UNHCR.