“In the Eye of the Storm”: Assessment of how Culture, Customs and Conflict are Deepening Protection Risks in Northwest Syria
Publication Date: 15/09/2022
Across Syria, there are estimated to be 6.9 million IDPs and a total of 14.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance – an increase of 1.2 million from 202113 in NWS, around 4 million people, including around 3 million IDPs14, need regular humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs. This includes 1.72 million people residing in 1,397 last-resort sites, of whom 80 percent are women and children15.
According to OCHA’s Multisectoral Needs Assessment (MSNA) data from August 2021, the income gap has widened everywhere in Syria, with average household expenditure exceeding income by fifty per cent. Only 10 percent of households have an income above the cost of Syria’s Minimum Expenditure Basket. Across the country, food insecurity remains extremely high – with an estimated 12 million severely food-insecure people, Syria ranked amongst the ten most food-insecure countries globally in mid-202116. More recent data, from Humanitarian Situation Overview in Syria (HSOS)17 in May 2022, and from Mercy Corps’ research18 into the wider impacts of the conflict in Ukraine, suggest a significant deterioration in 2022.
Additionally, in September 2022, Government of Syria declared the Cholera outbreak. As of the 29th of October, a total of 4526 suspected cholera cases have been reported from NWS with 1517 (33.5%) suspected cases reported from IDP camps.26
It is essential to note that these emerging pressures have specific – and different – impacts on men and women; CARE’s commitment to Gender Equality as both a goal and an impact area (Vision 2030 Gender Equality Impact Strategy) reflects an understanding of the differing social positions of men and women, and the disproportionate impacts of conflicts, crises and disasters on women and girls27. Aligned with CARE’s commitment to Gender Equality, Gender is the primary axis of disaggregation and as such, this PNA recognizes that the consequences of increasing food insecurity, increasing prices, and the on-going impact of public health crises have implications for women and girls, not least their increased exposure to gender-based violence28. This PNA, therefore, gives dedicated attention to the specific vulnerabilities of women and girls.
The PNA is further disaggregated by age, and diversity, in alignment with CARE’s commitment to accounting for intersecting vulnerabilities, inequalities and diversity, and recognizing the varying protection needs that arise from these. The data is also analysed through the lenses of age and disability particularly, to ensure that the distinct risks and needs of different groups are both identified and addressed. This means, for example, that the specific needs of boys (gender + age) are recognized and articulated, with the acknowledgement that child labour has a particular impact on adolescent boys, ending their education and putting them at risk of injury, recruitment into criminal activity, and isolating them from support. Child marriage is recognized as a specific concern for adolescent girls as both a mechanism of attempted ‘protection’ and as a way of reducing the resource needs of a family. Women and men with disabilities have protection needs related to their gender, in relation to care (the giving and receiving of), to employment and income-generating opportunities, and to their exposure to sexual exploitation and abuse. These risks and needs are explored throughout this report.
CARE Türkiye has been providing humanitarian programs in NWS since 2013.To deliver its programs in NWS CARE currently works in partnership with five Syrian NGOs and implements directly in Jarablus, Aleppo governorate. CARE’s expertise lies in emergency response (implemented via cash, vouchers, and in-kind assistance); water, sanitation, and hygiene services; shelter and settlement; sexual and reproductive health services; protection and gender- based violence response, prevention, and risk mitigation; livelihoods and economic recovery assistance.
In December 2021, CARE Türkiye commissioned SREO Consulting to conduct a comprehensive protection needs assessment (PNA) in NWS. The main goal of this PNA was to assist CARE, as well as other protection and non-protection actors, in developing protection-responsive humanitarian interventions and addressing NWS's complex humanitarian situation. The assessment aimed to include an age, gender, and diversity (AGD) lens to better understand critical protection concerns and needs of the diverse groups in the targeted communities. Particularly, the specific protection needs, concerns, and service access barriers of adolescents and youth, as well as persons with disabilities, have been assessed to inform well-tailored and well-targeted humanitarian responses. In July 2022 CARE engaged with Heather Cole, an independent technical writer to propose a revised analysis and the final shape of this report.