Addressing protection needs in Syria: overlooked, difficult, impossible?

Briefing papers
April 2014

In the last three years, the conflict in Syria has claimed over 120,000 lives, and nearly 10 million people inside Syria are in need of humanitarian aid.

Civilians have been deliberately targeted by armed groups but not enough has been done to provide protection for them, despite wider policy and legal developments on the concept of protection of civilians. The international humanitarian response has been largely dedicated to securing access and delivering material aid – vital aspects of humanitarian assistance – but with limited focus on protection of civilians.

This policy brief examines why aid agencies have been hesitant or unable to properly address protection issues in Syria and, in the absence of an international response, what has emerged in its absence. With reflection on growing responses of local groups and the Syrian diaspora, this publication calls for greater flexibility and creativity in the traditional humanitarian system to respond to the continuing crisis in Syria.