UK aid protects victims of violence as Syrian regime increases attacks in Idlib

A girl in an informal tented settlement close to the Syrian-Turkish border, northwest Syria. Picture: UNICEF/Khlaed Akacha

A girl in an informal tented settlement close to the Syrian-Turkish border, northwest Syria. Picture: UNICEF/Khlaed Akacha

A new package of UK aid support will help protect people at increasing risk of violence as the conflict in Syria escalates and pushes them to seek safety in harsh conditions, International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced today.

£89 million of UK aid will help those most in need as the numbers forced to flee the violence in north west Syria reaches unprecedented levels.

Today’s announcement comes as the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meets with his Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss the escalating violence in Syria and the UK’s support to the crisis.

Over the last 90 days, nearly a million people – the vast majority women and children – have fled their homes as the Assad regime and its Russian backers bomb civilian targets in the rebel-held town of Idlib and surrounding areas. The UN has said this is the largest displacement of people since the civil war began nearly nine years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in derelict buildings and makeshift camps in freezing conditions.

This funding will provide:

  • Tents, thermal blankets and clothing
  • Food, clean water and medical supplies
  • Access to immediate clinical care, counselling and legal advice for victims of violence
  • Facilities where women and girls can be protected from sexual attacks
  • Emergency access to education facilities where children can be protected and their families supported
  • Training for midwives to deliver children safely, provide emergency obstetric care and refer new mothers and babies to safe neonatal services
  • Access to contraception and ‘dignity kits’ for girls, pregnant women and new mothers, containing: sanitary products, sterile gloves, soap and a guide to help ensure safe childbirth when professional medical help is unavailable.

The Assad regime and Russian warplanes have been targeting hospitals and schools in Idlib, in breach of International Humanitarian Law. On one day alone last week [Tuesday 25 February], ten schools were attacked, killing and injuring children and teachers.

War has a devastating impact on girls in particular. In conflict zones, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than boys. Without an education provided by UK aid, girls are less able to develop the skills they need to get jobs, rebuild their lives and reach their full potential.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

No parent should put their child to bed fearing they may freeze to death overnight. No child should spend their time at school sheltering from bombs. But this is the cruel daily reality facing hundreds of thousands of Syrian people living through a relentless war.

Assad – backed by Russia – continues to kill and maim his own people, brutally attacking defenceless children in schools and forcing countless families to cross the border to Turkey to stay alive. We need an immediate and lasting ceasefire.

Through our support, the British people are helping save lives and stop the inhumane suffering of the Syrian people every day in this warzone.

The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the Syria crisis. Since day one, we have been at the forefront of the humanitarian response and have been helping Syrians with access to food, clean water, medical check-ups, vaccinations and an education both in Syria and the surrounding region.


Today’s announcement takes our total UK aid support to Syria and the region since 2011 to over £3.1 billion. So far this has provided:

  • Over 28 million food rations, over 18 million medical check-ups, and over 12 million vaccines across Syria and the region.
  • Clean water access to more than 140,000 people as well as providing psychosocial support to almost 28,000 people, including over 1,000 children.

UK aid goes to trusted partners in Syria. Today’s announcement includes new allocations of:

  • £15 million from DFID’s Crisis Reserve for emergency support for Idlib. This will:
  • Deliver medical and non-food items including clean water and tents
  • Develop 14 new internally displaced persons (IDP) sites to host families displaced
  • Evacuate medical staff and civilians from unsafe areas where military forces are advancing.

£74 million from the DFID’s Syria budget, which is allocated as:

  • £8 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • £7.5 million to UNICEF
  • £8.5 million for the World Health Organisation
  • £50 million to UN OCHA Pooled Funds, including:
  • £35 million to the Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund
  • £14 million to the Syria Humanitarian Fund, which is helping people across the whole of Syria
  • £1 million to support UN OCHA’s reporting mechanism.

This UK aid will go to where the need is most in North West Syria alongside camps for internally displaced people, where the influx of people fleeing Idlib and the surrounding area is putting pressure on camp resources and heightening risks of sexual violence.

DFID’s 2019/20 budget for UK aid to Syria has increased to meet the growing needs to £221 million.

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