Intense conflict escalation in 2016 was marked by severe infrastructural damage and an increase in internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria and refugees in neighboring and far-away countries. The destruction of their homes uprooted countless Syrian families—leaving men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled—essentially all members of society—deeply affected and exposed. While temporary housing structures such as tents in IDP camps were available to a subset of the population, the majority of individuals and families were forced to seek makeshift shelters, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.

In addition to the physical damages, the emotional and psychological tolls of the crisis have created irreparable wounds and scars in millions of Syrians. This level of trauma is the result of a long-standing crisis, and therefore requires the utmost attention in the form of protection support. Although an end to the war is not in sight, it is absolutely essential to provide holistic support to these vulnerable individuals and communities at large, as they represent resilience in its purest form.

SRD has responded to the need for Shelter programming in Syria through a variety of different projects. In Idleb, we rehabilitated shelters for 250 households that were damaged due to conflict-related violence. This included repairs to the shelters’ structural damage, doors, broken windows, locks and deteriorated plumbing. Solar panel systems were installed at each shelter receiving rehabilitation to provide a sustainable source of lighting in an energy-scarce environment. Shelter repair recipient families also received protection services through the project in order to address the psychological toll the crisis has taken on Syrians.

In Southern Syria, we successfully implemented our first collective shelter rehabilitation project in the region. Early on in the conflict, IDPs took shelter at a warehouse used for storing agricultural materials and its adjacent housing for agricultural workers. The site’s 8 buildings were being used by IDPs as an informal collective shelter. After identifying the site, SRD staff—led by an onsite engineer—conducted an in-depth technical assessment to ascertain the degree of damage the buildings sustained, the scale of repairs needed and the type and amount of different materials required to rehabilitate the area into a more livable collective shelter. In doing so, we successfully rehabilitated shelter for 21 households with repairs to 30 rooms, 20 bathrooms, 16 kitchens and 14 hallways among the 8 buildings. The repairs helped enhance the shelters’ living conditions to meet international standards and advance the dignity and resumption to normalcy for beneficiaries.

SRD is also preparing to undertake a 2-year project in Aleppo that will repair infrastructure and also provide health assistance to IDPs from other areas. The project will provide a higher and healthier living standard and better integrate IDPs with the local population. The improvements have been planned for areas that have been identified as overcrowded and lacking electricity and water.