World Health Organization: Syrian Arab Republic, Annual Report 2017

Publication language
Date published
01 Mar 2018
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace, Health, Protection, human rights & security

Seven years into the conflict, Syria’s catastrophic conflict has driven almost 12 million people from their homes and created the largest refugee crisis in recent history. Approximately 400 000 people have died, over six million have been displaced inside Syria, and over five million have left the country altogether. For the past five years, WHO has classified Syria as a grade 3 emergency – the highest level according to WHO’s Emergency Response Framework (ERF). The duration and severity of the conflict make Syria the longest major emergency the Organization has had to tackle since the ERF was introduced in 2013.

The effects of war are long-lasting. Many who survive chemical attacks, mortar explosions, bombings and gunshot wounds suffer life-changing injuries that persist long after the horrifying images have disappeared from television screens and news headlines. Prolonged exposure to horrific acts of violence has left many people susceptible to profound distress. Children are particularly vulnerable; many of them have known nothing but conflict, displacement, distress, hunger and despair.

The sheer numbers of people in need are overwhelming. A staggering two thirds of the population are living in extreme poverty. More than one third have no access to safe water. Rates of acute malnutrition in children under five years of age are growing, leading to potentially lifelong health problems. Over 13 million people require humanitarian assistance. After years of conflict, Syria’s economic collapse has led to a descending spiral where people are increasingly unable to meet even their most basic needs.