Syria Syria

Statistical Snapshot


Syria’s estimated population was 17 million in 2019, down from 21 million in 2011, when conflict erupted.[1] The war has led to one of the largest refugee crises in the world, with Syrian refugees making up a quarter of all refugees globally. As per the latest UNHCR data, there are over 5.5 million Syrian refugees,[2] 11.5 percent residing in Europe and 87 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and Turkey.[3] Most Syrian refugees continue to live in the region, mostly in urban host community areas, while only 7 percent reside in camps. Half of all registered Syrian refugees in the Arab region are children below the age of 18.[4]

According to the Global Peace Index, Syria held the position of least peaceful country for the past six years and second least peaceful country worldwide in 2019, owing to the recent weakening in the intensity of conflict.[5]

Conflict in Syria has taken a very heavy toll on the economy, eroding livelihoods, destroying infrastructure and disrupting services provision since 2011. While The World Bank estimates a $226 billion cumulative GDP loss in Syria between 2011 and 2016[6], Syria incurred the largest economic cost of violence in the world, estimated at 67 percent of GDP in 2019.[5] Syria’s Human Development Index (HDI) value declined from 0.644 in 2010 to 0.549 in 2018, positioning the country in the low human development category — at 154th out of 189 countries and territories.[7]

In 2019, around 11.7 million people were considered in need of humanitarian assistance in the world’s second worst humanitarian crisis after Yemen.[8]
According to the latest UN Humanitarian Needs Overview, more than 83 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, compared to 28 percent in 2010, while the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – which employs indicators related to health, education and basic needs — registers a national poverty rate of 38.9 percent.[9] Similarly, the proportion of Syrian refugees spending less than US $2.90 a day reached 55 percent in 2019 up from 51 percent in 2018 to 55 percent in 2019.).[10]


Unemployment has increased to 55 percent[9] compared to the official rate of 8.6 percent in 2010[11], while the purchasing power has deteriorated to one tenth of the 2010 level.[9]

With more than four out of five people living in poverty and given the rise in essential food prices and the estimated $16 billion losses in the agriculture sector, it is estimated that 6.5 million people are food insecure in Syria and an additional 2.5 million people face a high food insecurity risk.[9]

Output losses and infrastructure destruction have mostly affected the oil, manufacturing, transportation, and construction sectors. Syria’s external balances have suffered from the significant deterioration in oil receipts and disruptions of trade, which has led to the rapid erosion of its international reserves.[6] There is significant uncertainty around the economic data and estimates given the expected growth of the informal economy, the war economy and the disruption in the work of the national statistical system and functioning of public institutions across the country.[12]


Given the continuous displacement, exposure to violence, increasing poverty and persistent lack of access to basic services and necessities, the wellbeing of children has been particularly affected in Syria, with 5 million under-18 children in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019.[9] Around 91,811 under-five children were acutely undernourished in 2019, with an additional 146,898 children at a high risk of undernourishment if the crisis persists.[9] Due to ongoing hostilities, one out of three schools were either damaged, destroyed, or used as collective shelters for internally displaced people. In the same context, 2.1 million children remain out-of-school and 1.3 million children at risk of dropping out.[13]


The crisis has deeply impacted the health delivery system, draining the health workforce, across the country, with 46 percent of hospitals and primary health facilities being non-functional or partially functional. By mid-2019, 13.2 million Syrians needed health assistance, with females making up 72 percent of them.[9] The disruption of health services, unsanitary living conditions, and low coverage of routine immunisation, make displaced populations and returnees quite vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially with an estimated 41 percent of the adult population requiring treatment for one or more non-communicable diseases.[14]


According to the latest United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates, 39 percent and 38 percent of one-year-old children lacked DTP and measles immunization, compared to 6 percent and 11 percent respectively in the Arab region.[15][16] The infrastructure and referral system that remains functional after nine years of crisis is insufficient to deal with the prevailing needs, putting extreme challenges on Syria to alleviate the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak.


This overview was last updated in April 2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.  2020. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). April 2020. Syria Regional Refugee Response. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[3] UNHCR-Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut. 2019. 101 Facts & Figures on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020]
[4] Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan. 2019. Regional strategic overview, 2020-2021. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020]
[5] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2019. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[6] The World Bank. 2020. Syria Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020]
[7] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). HDI Database. April 2020. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[8] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (UNOCHA). 2019. Key Figures. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[9] Whole of Syria Strategic Steering Group (SSG). March 2019. 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)Syrian Arab Republic. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[10] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[11] Syria Central Bureau of Statistics. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[12] United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA). 2014. Assessing the Impact of the Conflict on the Syrian Economy and Looking Beyond. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 April 2020].
[13] United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2020. Syria Crisis April 2019 Humanitarian Results. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[14] World Health Organization. 2018. Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) Country Profiles, 2018. ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[15] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2019. Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2019 Statistical Update. Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].
[16] United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2020. Data by topic and country [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].

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Data Highlights

  • The spread and amplification of Syria’s armed conflict have led to a humanitarian crisis with 6.5 million internally displaced persons and 4.8 million refugees by the end of 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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