Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jan 18, 2017. The current version is updated with the latest statistics.

Since the onset of the Syria crisis in 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, and today 13.1 million people in Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian support, protection, and livelihoods. What’s more, despite a widespread perception that refugees from Syria head mostly to Europe, an astonishing 5.6 million people have taken refuge in countries on Syria’s borders — whose hospitality has been warm and generous but comes at great cost due to the sheer scale of the influx.

©Freya Morales/UNDP

The majority of Syrians still live inside Syria — but among those who have left, over 5.6 million have registered in the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Turkey hosts the most, at over 3.5 million, but Lebanon and Jordan also host a high number, relative to their own population. In fact, today 1 out of every 4 people in Lebanon is a refugee from Syria and 1 in 10 in Jordan. For its part, Iraq is hosting refugees while also contending with massive internal displacement resulting from ISIL and the fight against it.

©UNDP Lebanon

What is a host community ?

When in need during an emergency, one of the first people to turn to are those closest at hand.

Neighbouring countries serve this function, generously hosting Syrian refugees, some in formal refugee camps but the great majority in already-strained communities. Host communities are seeing their well-being come under pressure: schools and hospitals, water and sanitation systems are stretched far beyond capacity. Unemployment is skyrocketing at the same time as the cost of living is rising — adding more pressure to host communities’ ability to cope.

Workers pave roads as part of a project to rehabilitate Souk Marash, a traditional open air market in Bourj Hammoud which provides jobs for hundreds in the region. © UNDP Lebanon

What are we doing to help?

In countries neighbouring Syria, UNDP supports host communities to cope with the pressures associated with large refugee influx by improving infrastructure and boosting local economic and employment opportunities. We especially focus on vulnerable groups, such as young people, and women, and do most of our work in poorer areas. Much of our work also benefits refugees and fosters social peace between the two groups.

© UNDP Lebanon

In Lebanon, our emergency employment projects have created work for both Lebanese and Syrians while also boosting infrastructure — 700,000 Lebanese and 600,000 Syrians have better access to basic services such as running water and sanitation through our work.

©UNDP Lebanon

In Turkey, over 470,000 people in host communities and Syrians in temporary accommodation centers benefited from improved municipal services in Gaziantep, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa. 9,718 Syrians attended vocational training courses in more than 20 occupations, life skills training and Turkish language training. 60 % of participants are female.

Women digging irrigation canals on a farm in Qabb Elias Village. © UNDP Lebanon

Over 41,000 refugees and Jordanians received emergency jobs or training to learn how to manage small businesses and learn skilled technical trades such as electrical repair, sewing, baking, and more. Those who graduate from the training receive seed funding and equipment to set up their own family-owned businesses.

Fishermen prepare to bring in catch to renovated fish market in Sarafand, Lebanon. © UNDP Lebanon

In Iraq, 65,000 people, both Syrians and Iraqis, now have access to safe drinking water through our emergency employment program putting job seekers to work in public works projects that rebuild the basics of life. And 12,000 internally-displaced people and refugees, 90 per cent of them women, received protection services through seven Legal Service Centers set up with UNDP support.

© UNDP Syria

Help us to help the people in host communities who provide safe haven for Syrian refugees. Donate so we can sustain our work in Syria’s neighbouring countries: undp.org/supportsyrians

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