Until 2011, Syria was an ethnically and religiously diverse country with a population of approx 22 million people. An ancient civilisation, its capital, Damascus, is famous in the Bible as the Apostle Paul was converted on the road there.

Civil war broke out following protests in March 2011 triggered by the Arab Spring. This war has turned into the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. Some 250,000 people are estimated to have been killed, around half of them civilians.

Over half Syria’s population (12m) have had to leave their homes, often multiple times: 7.6 million are homeless inside the country, and almost 5 million have fled to neighboring countries as refugees, the majority to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Over half of them are children. This is the world’s largest refugee crisis.

The once prosperous country has been destroyed. There are daily bombings, horrific human rights violations, and in September 2013 the UN confirmed that use of chemical weapons was widespread.

In 2014, the radical militant group Islamic State (IS) took over large areas to the east of the country and now control about half of Syria. In September 2014, the UK, USA and other countries joined forces to start airstrikes to combat ISIS.

In spite of recent efforts to end the conflict, the violence is expected to continue for many years to come. With no end in sight and the humanitarian response critically underfunded, this is a tragedy of colossal proportions producing a scale of human suffering almost impossible to comprehend.

Map of syria

Our work in SYRIA

We work through networks of local churches in various locations (we can’t be specific for security reasons). Our brave local partners are risking their lives to carry out:

  • Distribution of food packages.
  • Distribution of basic supplies, such as blankets, fuel and stoves for the winter.
  • Peacebuilding workshops for young people, training them to become leaders and ambassadors for peace in their communities.

How you can get involved: write to your MP

To mark the fifth anniversary of the start of Syria’s war, please join with us in solidarity for Syria by writing to your MP to call for more action.


In spite of the treacherous situation in Syria, Tearfund has been able to work with local partners to help keep many thousands of people alive.

Food distribution: Major food assistance projects in three regions of the country, reaching over 9,960 with emergency food supplies, preventing malnutrition for those caught up in the violence.

Supplying blankets, heating stoves and cash subsidies for fuel to 2,610 individuals, to get them safely through the bitter winter conditions.

Leadership training programme: At special events, 146 young people have been trained to be ambassadors for peace and establish leadership teams in their churches and community. “Before this event I was dead. Now I am alive again.” Young male participant

Pray for our work in Syria

  • Please pray that the flow of militants and arms into Syria would stop.
  • Pray for the governments in the West to make good decisions about Syria.
  • Pray for safety and strength for our partners working inside Syria, that they would be able to continue supplying aid to those most in need.
  • Pray for those living under siege in places too dangerous for aid to reach, that access would open up.

Support our work in Syria and the Middle East


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