On The Ground

What started out as a peaceful protest in 2011 has since become the longest-lasting civil war on the planet.

Now in its eighth year, the Syrian civil war has led to more than 13 million people – 70% of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance.

Of these, 5.6 million people are in acute need due to a convergence of vulnerabilities resulting from displacement, exposure to hostilities, and limited access to basic goods and service.

Approximately 56% of the Syrian population have been forced to leave their homes.

The crisis, described as the worst humanitarian disaster of our time, has caused untold suffering for Syrian children, women, and men who bear the brunt of intensified military activity, heavy fighting, airstrikes, and besiegement.

We’re working with our partners, Hand in Hand for Syria, ReliefAid and Bahar Organisation, to help those affected.

In 2018, we helped more than 4,000 families by providing tents, tarpaulins, water carriers and solar lights. We also distributed mattresses, children’s winter jackets, insulated baby onesies and hat, glove, and scarf sets for the winter.

We have supported over 45,000 total families affected by the conflict in Syria. But there are millions more living in Syria and neighboring countries who have no shelter, nowhere to go, and no hope for the future.

We’re working to change this. We are impatient to see a world where no family is left without shelter – but we need your support.

Millions Displaced

ShelterBox continues to respond

ShelterBox responding in Aleppo, Syria

A mother and her children carry a ShelterKit in war-torn Aleppo


Responding to Crises Within a Crisis
In a protracted crisis such as that in Syria and Iraq there is a well-established humanitarian architecture in place to support people affected by the disaster. As in responses to natural disaster, ShelterBox has continued to focus on providing emergency shelter. The organization has positioned itself by offering surge capacity in times of massive displacement, such as the Aleppo Emergency in February 2016, when 75,000 people were displaced in a matter of weeks.

Syria is one of the most challenging operating environments in the world. It is too dangerous for a volunteer-led organization such as ShelterBox to safely operate and provide aid. Therefore ShelterBox has established partnerships with agencies working in Iraq and within Syria to allow access to these areas. Partners such as Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid, who have networks in the affected areas and are able to access the people who are in need of assistance.

24% of all households helped by ShelterBox since the start of 2015 have been those displaced by the conflict in Syria and Iraq

A Flexible Approach
ShelterBox has dispatched tents, ShelterKits and non-food items (NFIs) to ease a variety of needs in Syria, Iraq and Greece. The equipment that is procured is based on the needs of Syrians and Iraqis, based on the contextual and seasonal needs of displaced people. For example, the ShelterKits distributed in Aleppo city in the summer of 2016 were tailored to protect against summer insects with mosquito nets, and included enough water purification equipment to provide families with drinking water for 5-months.

People are constantly displaced by the shifting front lines, as the different armed factions seek to take and hold territory. Tents are used to take people out of overcrowded communal shelters, or to provide shelter to people who have no protection from the elements except for trees.

Funding for shelter support to the Syrian conflict is chronically low. In 2016 the Shelter & NFI Sector within the Syrian Humanitarian Response Plan was 18% funded.

According to the U.N. in 2016, a staggering $4.5 billion was needed to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable Syrian families but only $2.9 billion was received.

Syria School Kids

A Syrian class receives ShelterBox school packs

In the News

Responding since 2012:

2017 – Charity Navigator supporting Syrian refugees list

2017 – Cool Mom Picks – How to help the Syrians

2016 – Goop includes ShelterBox in How to Help Syria list

2016 – ShelterBox Report: Aid worker killed in Aleppo

2016 – ShelterBox — Nerdhiker’s Guide to the Charity

2015 – Public Radio International (PRI) #SyrianRefugees list

2015 – Rueters list of organizations responding to Syrian Crisis

2015 – The Christian Science Monitor list 

2015 – Rotary and ShelterBox support Syrian refugees

2013 – CNN feature on ShelterBox’s work in Syria

2013 – CNN iReport: ShelterBox aid arrives in Syria

2012 – Forbes 12 Days of Charitable Giving: ShelterBox

2012 – The Telegraph takes a look at ShelterBox’s response


ShelterBox in Iraq

ShelterBox in Iraq  •  See more images

ShelterBox in Lebanon

ShelterBox Tent in Lebanon  •  See more images

ShelterBox Tent in Jordan  •  See more images

ShelterBox tents in Turkey

ShelterBox Tents in Turkey

ShelterBox response in Greece  •  See more images


How it started

What started out as a peaceful protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, degenerated into a regional inter-ethnic civil war. The violence, sectarian tensions and economic hardship has forced Syrian families from their homes and land.

Global warming has also been attributed as part of the problem. A severe drought from 2007-2010 caused roughly 1.5 million people to migrate from the countryside into cities, which exacerbated poverty and social unrest.

Years later, this remains the worst humanitarian crisis the world has faced since the end of the cold war. This disaster has displaced more people than the Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan, Haiti earthquake, Japanese earthquake and Hurricane Katrina combined.

VIDEO: Syria classroom in a cave

The Zeidan Family

“Our only hope for the future is to be able to return to our home country and live our life as it was before.”

In 2013, ShelterBox was the first international aid organization to distribute relief tents to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

With so vast a story, the greatest insight often lies in individual tales and quiet voices. Meet 25-year-old Ahed Hussein Zeidan. Her eyes are full of sadness as she tells her story, sitting elegantly in her ShelterBox tent in Akaar, northern Lebanon.

“We left our village in Syria one day in the early hours of the morning. We had felt unsafe in our home for a while with all the shelling that was happening in our area. It was a frightening journey here as we had to pass through several checkpoints, but we made it across the border late at night the same day, so it was a very long journey.”

Ahed is cradling her four-month-old baby, Omar. On either side of her are two of her three sisters who also live with her, one of whom is holding her own baby boy. Her brother in law is out working to raise enough money to rent the piece of land on which they have settled.

“When we arrived here, we were living in an unfinished building, like lots of other families. However, as winter approached, it was freezing as there were no walls. It was not closed or sheltered. We lived here until we received a ShelterBox. We then found this land and set up the tent. We are so grateful for it.

This tent is closed so it is much better, protecting us from all the bad weather, the wind and rain. It’s much warmer and much better than the unfinished house. We are more comfortable and we feel safer and our children are safer.


More aid is desperately needed. Will you help?

Your support will help bring light to families in their darkest hour.