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A starving Somali child gets food to eat and health assistance from the Universal Rescue
Universal Rescue

Explore our work

Since 2011, war in Syria has taken more than 400,000 lives and left 13.5 million people in need of aid. Through programs coordinated from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, the Universal Rescue provides emergency and long-term services to displaced families and Syrians who have stayed in their homes.


What caused the current crisis in Syria?

In 2011, anti-government protests broke out across Syria. The government used force to stop protesters, prompting many opposition groups to take up arms.

Syrian society has been torn apart by brutal violence, creating the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.An average of 6,000 families are forced to leave their homes each day due to fighting. Millions have fled to neighboring countries. As conditions worsen, many Syrians choose to risk their lives in search of safety and opportunity in Europe.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Syria?

nside Syria, ongoing fighting has killed civilians, and decimated infrastructure and economic markets. Amid widespread violence, 1.7 million Syrian children have left school. Attacks on homes, schools and hospitals—including IRC-supported facilities—continue to rise.

Over 6.3 million people are displaced and 13.5 million need emergency assistance. Meanwhile, 4.9 million Syrians live in areas that are difficult or impossible for aid workers to reach. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to a range of safety issues including sexual violence, child labor, and physical and mental trauma.


How does the Universal Rescue help in Syria?

the Universal Rescue’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. We first began assisting Syrians in 2012, providing emergency relief and humanitarian aid to those uprooted by war. In 2016, over 1,000 IRC workers helped more than 1 million Syrians inside their country. This included 971,000 people treated in around 50 IRC supported clinics and mobile health teams, helping 24,000 women and girls–many survivors of assault and abuse–find safety and support, and providing an education and support to over 10,000 children and parents. the Universal Rescue also supported 13,500 Syrians to get vital documents to move more freely and access services, as well as provided thousands of Syrians with job training and cash or vouchers to help them buy food and other essential items for their families.


What still needs to be done?

As the conflict continues and available resources inside Syria dry up, the Universal Rescue’s work is more critical than ever. We pledge to put the needs of those most affected by crisis at the forefront of our efforts and to achieve measurable improvements in safety, health and economic wellbeing. Here’s a closer look at some of the work we will be doing over the next few years to achieve our goals.

We will continue to support uprooted Syrians and host communities, with a particular focus on women and children. the Universal Rescue is also committed to reaching the most vulnerable and hard-to-access areas throughout the country. We will continue to expand our programs based on where there is the greatest need.