The Syrian Crisis

Now, in the tenth 

year of the crisis, the severity of needs remains overwhelming and demands global support.


Syria is the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time.

The number of Syrian refugees has been steadily increasing since the Syrian crisis broke out in 2011. According to UNHCR and UNICEF reports on Syria, over half of the more than 5 million registered refugees fleeing Syria are women and children under 12 years of age. Only 10-20 percent live in camps. The majority are urban refugees, living in temporary housing in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.


It is important to note that this number reflects only the number of officially registered Syrian refugees and excludes those who have declined to register, are not been able to gain refugee status, or are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within the country. UNHCR's latest reports indicate that, as of June 2020, there are more than 5.6 registered Syrian refugees.


  • Protests begin in southern city of Daraa and spread north.

  • Syrian families begin to flee their homes among unrest.

  • The first refugee camp opens in Turkey.


  • Za’atari Refugee Camp opens in Jordan to host 120,000 refugees in just one year.

  • A half a million Syrians seek refuge in other countries.


  • The number of Syrian refugee children reaches one million.

  • The Ghouta chemical attacks occur.

  • Islamists rise in territory from Aleppo to eastern Iraq.


  • More Syrians risk deadly sea journeys to reach Europe.

  • Nearly half of Syria’s 22 million population is  affected by the crisis and in need of humanitarian aid.


  • The child Alan Kurdi is pictured washed up on a Turkish beach and becomes a symbol of the crisis.

  • Syrian refugees reach 4 million with 250,000 killed and 12 million displaced.


  • UN calls Syria the biggest crisis of our time.

  • Unrest continues as foreign powers escalate intervention.

  • Thousands are displaced in the battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city.


  • The number of registered refugees 
    surpasses 5 million.

  • The death toll in  Syria rise to 500,000 killed.

  • Islamists recede from captured territories.

  • Conflict continues in its seventh year.

In 2020, the Syrian crisis only worsens.

The crisis has grown even more dire as pro-government forces have escalated their efforts to retake Eastern Ghouta, one of the last major rebel-held areas in Syria. From February 2018 alone, over 1,000 people have been reported dead and more than 100,000 people have fled as a result of the bombardment in Eastern Ghouta. In early April 2018, the area suffered a chemical weapons attack affecting hundreds of people.


Despite expressing outrage over the use of chemical weapons, the Administration has given no indication that the US will increase refugee admissions. So far in 2018, only 13 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the US. On June 26, the Supreme Court upheld the Administration's travel ban on people from majority Muslim countries, stymieing the refugee resettle program for Syrians.


In June 2018, The Syrian government began an assault on Daraa governate. It has driven more than160,000 people from their homes across southwestern Syria. With no shelter, running water or sanitary facilities, the situation at the border for displaced people continues to worsen. The border with Jordan remains sealed, leaving thousands of families stranded stranded. 


Please visit our MFA News and Press Releases & Statements pages to stay up-to-date on the crisis.


More than 5 million people have fled Syria.

Who is a refugee?

Globally there are over 65 million displaced people who are fleeing their homes because of war, persecution, or violence. The legal status of displaced people depends heavily on which category they fall under: refugee, internally displaced person, or asylum seeker. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) definitions for these terms are listed below.

Refugees have been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The average time away from their home country for refugees is 17 years.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been forced to flee their home for the same reason as a refugee. But, they remain in their own country and have not crossed an international border. Unlike refugees, IDPs are not protected by international law or eligible to receive many types of aid.

When people flee their country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum — the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. It is up to the receiving country's refugee processing bureaus to assess if a fear of persecution or other imminent danger is "well-founded." If that bureau finds that an asylum seeker's fear of persecution is not "well-founded," the asylum seeker will be deported back to their country of citizenship.

U.S. Refugee Resettlement

More than 5 million people  have fled Syria.

The United States has resettled slightly over 21,000 Syrian refugees since March 2011. This number is low compared  to European countries with more 1 million Syrian refugees arriving, 55 times more than the United States. It is even lower when compared to low to moderate income countries neighboring Syria — like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq — which host more than 5 million people.

The top three resettlement states in the U.S. for Syrian refugees are Michigan, California, and Texas. In Michigan, metropolitan Detroit is home to one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East and has a large Syrian-American community. In California, Syrian refugees have mainly resettled in San Diego and Sacramento. In Texas, resettlement is distributed across the major cities Houston, Austin, and Fort Worth.

Help plant the seeds
for future stability.

More than $150 million  in relief supplies


As the Syrian crisis continues into its ninth year, more than 13.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance.

To respond to the crisis, MFA and its partners have delivered more than $150 million of relief supplies into hard-to-reach areas inside Syria and refugee camps along the border.

MFA works closely with its trusted NGO partners on the ground in Syria to identify the precise relief needed. Then, MFA and its network of partner organizations determine how to best fill the need. MFA projects range from supporting hospitals with urgently-needed medical supplies to providing tents and warm clothing for the cold winter months.