DG's Statements and Speeches
15 Mar 2021

IOM Director General António Vitorino's Statement on the Ten-Year Anniversary of the Syrian Conflict

Geneva – This week marks a decade of conflict and destruction in Syria. Countless lives have been lost to the war, millions uprooted and displaced, and entire generations impacted. 

Returning to their past lives is no longer an option for many Syrians and moving on is a daily heartbreak. Those affected by the crisis have shown remarkable resilience and perseverance, yet they have been offered little respite from the irreversible impacts of the conflict and bloodshed. 

Tragically, many who remain inside the country continue to suffer from severe human rights abuses, hunger and violence, a situation which is further compounded by the pandemic. The economic and political outlook for the next 12 months remains bleak, as those hit hardest are struggling to make ends meet. 

Thirty per cent of the total population is currently displaced, including 2.7 million people in the Northwest of the country. Over the last decade, many have been in a constant state of flight; nearly one-quarter of Syria’s internally displaced persons have been forced to flee at least four times.  

While more than 100 countries have opened their doors to Syrian refugees, more than 5.6 million people reside in refugee camps or urban centres in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. 

Others have traveled further – embarking on dangerous journeys on the Mediterranean or across perilous terrain – taking great risks in hopes of a better life.  

While many Syrians have found avenues to integrate in their countries of asylum or resettled abroad, many more still struggle to meet their basic needs or find opportunities to build a better future. 

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has been assisting Syrians fleeing conflict throughout the last decade.  

Our teams continue to work tirelessly to support those most in need with lifesaving humanitarian assistance and to promote social cohesion and opportunities for integration that have allowed many to start life anew. Our resettlement operations have helped more than 230,000 Syrian refugees to move safely to new countries.  

Inside Syria, we support the work of thousands of Syrian front-line humanitarian workers who take great personal risks every day to serve millions of people in distress and to track the scale of displacement. In the last year, IOM’s cross-border operations have reached more than one million people. 

Despite our best efforts, much more still needs to be done to mitigate the suffering of Syrians, to support the resilience of communities and to secure dignified solutions for all those displaced. 

Access to the North of the country through ongoing cross border operations remains an essential, lifesaving humanitarian intervention.  

Equally crucial is an increase in funding commitments by the international community for humanitarian operations. Without greater investment to adequately respond to the urgent needs of 13.4 million people inside Syria, we risk compounding this human tragedy.   

I call upon our trusted partners and the international donor community to continue to support IOM’s operations in Syria, to not turn their backs on the Syrian people.  

And while greater humanitarian funding is urgently needed, this situation will never be solved with aid alone. Too many lives continue to be threatened in the absence of long-term solutions. 

I join my fellow UN principals in calling for a sustainable resolution to end the conflict, and let the Syrian people rebuild their lives in dignity. Ultimately, only a political solution can end the decade of conflict and suffering and bring lasting peace.  


For more information, please contact:

Angela Wells at IOM in Geneva, Email: awells@iom.int
Mohammedali Abunajela at IOM's Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (Arabic), Email: mmabunajela@iom.int