Syrian Arab Republic

Context analysis

With GoS having re-established control over all of South Syria, and the “so-called” demilitarized zone in place in the North, the overall intensity of the Syrian conflict fell to record lows, although large pockets of instability remain across the country  

OAGs remain in control of the Idleb pocket in the North. Although HTS is by and large is the dominant group and the main power broker in the area, a plethora of other OAGs of different ideologies, backgrounds, and allegiances challenge HTS authority at times, all of which contributes to a very fragmented and unstable environment. That the “so called” demilitarized zone along North Syria frontlines seems to be holding is, by and large, the product or Russian and Turkish calculations.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the eastern regions of Syria continue to develop their governance project in a delicate balancing act between the need to reconcile, or at least come to terms, with GoS, and the political agenda of its main international backer, the US. The latter, in turn, appears to be committed to long-term presence on the ground, despite the inevitable frictions that this causes with Turkey.

With OAGs all but contained in the North, GoS is in its strongest position since the Syrian conflict began, and is now concentrating its efforts on shifting the national and regional discourse to post-conflict reconstruction and economic development. Yet, challenges to its authority remain: anti-GoS action in the South West and the residual presence of IS in large swathes of the Badia desert will affect the social cohesion and economic viability of GoS territory throughout 2019.

OPERATIONAL SINCE
2014

INSO FACTS & FIGURES

45
STAFF
158
NGO
MEMBERS
13.5 M
PEOPLE IN NEED
(OCHA)

Gross Incident Rate

Jan to Dec 2018

The Gross Incident Rate (GIR) consists of all security incidents recorded and reported by INSO in this country for the stated period with no disaggregation or exclusion. It includes conflict and criminal related incidents; serious (i.e. bombings) and non-serious events (i.e. demonstrations); and both security improving (i.e. arrests/seizures) and security-deteriorating incidents (i.e. attacks). The Gross Incident Rate is valuable in providing a snapshot of the overall level of volatility in the country.  It is not valuable in assessing the specific risk to NGOs and/or whether a situation is becoming better or worse as changes in the GIR may be caused by both positive (more arrests) or negative (more attacks) trends.
TOTAL
Jan to Dec 2018
Total incidents recorded in Syria this year to date. Updated monthly.




31579
INCIDENTS
PER MONTH
Jan to Dec 2018
Total incidents per month for the current year to date. Updated monthly.


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AUTHOR
Jan to Dec 2018
Percentage of incidents by author* 
(conflict / criminal). Updated monthly.


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NGO INCIDENT Rate

Jan to Dec 2018

The NGO Incident Rate (NIR) comprises a gross count of all incidents that involved an NGO in this country for the stated time period. It includes both criminal and conflict related events; serious (i.e. killings/abductions) and non-serious (i.e. threats, petty robbery) incidents; and occurrences of both direct, indirect and/or accidental/collateral involvement. The NIR is valuable in evaluating NGO general exposure to ambient insecurity in this country and whether there is a negative or positive directional trend over time. Where the NIR shows no clear pattern over time, specific NGO targeting is assumed not to be present however it is important to remember that rate changes are also affected by per-capita density and NGO mobility. Neither INSO nor any other entity we are aware of has meaningful data on these two components, meaning that numbers should be taken as gross indicators only.  

Total
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO incidents reported in Syria this year to date. Updated monthly.




171
NGO INCIDENTS
PER MONTH
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO incidents per month for the current year to date. Updated monthly.


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Type
Jan to Dec 2018
Percentage of incidents by type* (SAF, IED, intimidation etc). Updated monthly.


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NGO Fatality Rate

Jan to Dec 2018

The NGO Fatality Rate (NFR) comprises a total count of all NGO workers that have been killed or died in this country for the stated period. The count includes the national and international staff of NGOs and the Red Cross organisations only and does not include the staff of the United Nations unless otherwise stated. The count includes both criminal and conflict related causes; targeted and accidental deaths and all types of weapons/tactics. The NGO Fatality Rate works with the NIR and is valuable in determining the likelihood of this most serious result and whether there is a negative or positive directional trend over time. Where there is no clear upwards trend in NGO deaths, we assess that systematic targeting of NGOs does not exist and that deaths rather occur as a result of exposure to ambient insecurity albeit with occasional targeted events.

TOTAL
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO fatalities in Syria this year to date. Updated monthly.




14
NGO FATALITIES
PER MONTH
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO fatalities per month for the current year to date. Updated monthly.


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NATIONALITY
Jan to Dec 2018
Percentage of national and international NGO staff fatalities. Updated monthly.


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NGO Injury Rate

Jan to Dec 2018

The NGO Injury Rate comprises a total count of all NGO workers that have been injured in this country for the stated period. The count includes the national and international staff of NGOs and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement only and does not include the staff of the United Nations unless otherwise stated. The count includes both accidental and deliberate causes. In the case where an individual subsequently dies from their injuries, they have been removed from this count and added to the NFR.
Total
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO injuries in Syria this year to date. Updated monthly.




36
NGO INJURIES
PER MONTH
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO injuries per month for the current year to date. Updated monthly.


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NATIONALITY
Jan to Dec 2018
Percentage of national and international NGO staff injuries. Updated monthly.


Roll mouse over chart for exact percentages.


NGO Abduction Rate

Jan to Dec 2018

The NGO Abduction Rate comprises a total count of all NGO workers that have been abducted in this country for the stated period. The count includes the national and international staff of NGOs and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement only and does not include the staff of the United Nations unless otherwise stated. For this purpose "abduction" includes all cases of NGO workers being taken against their will and unlawfully for any purpose and for any duration. Some abductions turn in to kidnapping (where political or criminal demands are made) and some in to detentions (where the victim is released without demand).
Total
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO abductions in Syria this year to date. Updated monthly.




7
NGO ABDUCTONS
PER MONTH
Jan to Dec 2018
Total NGO abductions per month for the current year to date. Updated monthly.


Roll mouse over chart for exact numbers.


NATIONALITY
Jan to Dec 2018
Percentage of national and international NGO staff abductions. Updated monthly.


Roll mouse over chart for exact percentages.


ALERTS SENT
175
REPORTS SENT
939
NGO ROUNDTABLES HOSTED
38
SECURITY ASSESSMENTS
199
INSO NGO Service Register: Jan to Dec 2018

Key Risks & Mitigation Measures

Risk

Crime: criminal activity has been on the rise in the OAG pocket in North Syria since early 2018, due to the fragmentation of security actors on the ground and the collapse of tenuous law enforcements practices and inter-group understandings. NGO staff are directly affected by crime, including kidnapping, due to perceptions of wealth rather than their humanitarian profile per-se.

Risk

Collateral exposure to IEDs and other asymmetric attacks. In the peripheries of SDF controlled territories, including the former IS capital of Raqqa, IED and other asymmetric attacks against local security forces are on the rise. Although humanitarian actors have not been directly targeted, the risk of being collaterally impacted will increase along with the number of overall attacks, and as NGOs continue to move into formerly IS-held areas of East Syria. 

Risk

Collateral exposure to GoS/OAG conflict activity: exposure to GoS and OAG conflict activity was previously the main driver of NGO incidents in the North, until the so-called “demilitarized” zone was established in September. Should large-scale conflict activity resume between the two actors, NGOs operating near frontlines would once again be at risk of being impacted by crossfire, and all NGOs at risk of impact from GoS/GoR airstrikes throughout the region. 

Mitigation

NGOs are highly advised to take preventive measures to mitigate any potential robbery or theft against their facilities. Mitigation measures may include: minimising the number of staff members involved in transferring and moving cash. Procedures and potentially even the locations of storage and distribution of cash should be changed on a periodic basis, as should the schedule of all cash-related logistics. 

Mitigation

Proximity to local security forces, the most frequent target of such attacks, should be avoided whenever possible. NGOs should reduce time spent at checkpoints and near military positions, and should exercise extreme caution when approaching checkpoints that have been recently under attack, are imposing a curfew, or guarding the entrance of sensitive facilities. NGOs should consider the risks of using 4x4 vehicles, which could be mistaken for military vehicles. Likelihood of mistaken targeting can increase during periods of low visibility (fog, sandstorms, dawn or dusk, etc…).

Mitigation

NGOs are advised to update and implement protection strategies that mitigate against the risk of aerial and indirect ground fire attacks, including infrastructure security measures (basements, bunkers, treatment of windows) but also careful monitoring of shifts in frontline conflict activity. Hibernation and evacuation policies should be re-assessed and adapted after major changes in the conflict context. 

Risk

Crime: criminal activity has been on the rise in the OAG pocket in North Syria since early 2018, due to the fragmentation of security actors on the ground and the collapse of tenuous law enforcements practices and inter-group understandings. NGO staff are directly affected by crime, including kidnapping, due to perceptions of wealth rather than their humanitarian profile per-se.

Mitigation

NGOs are highly advised to take preventive measures to mitigate any potential robbery or theft against their facilities. Mitigation measures may include: minimising the number of staff members involved in transferring and moving cash. Procedures and potentially even the locations of storage and distribution of cash should be changed on a periodic basis, as should the schedule of all cash-related logistics. 


Risk

Collateral exposure to IEDs and other asymmetric attacks. In the peripheries of SDF controlled territories, including the former IS capital of Raqqa, IED and other asymmetric attacks against local security forces are on the rise. Although humanitarian actors have not been directly targeted, the risk of being collaterally impacted will increase along with the number of overall attacks, and as NGOs continue to move into formerly IS-held areas of East Syria. 

Mitigation

Proximity to local security forces, the most frequent target of such attacks, should be avoided whenever possible. NGOs should reduce time spent at checkpoints and near military positions, and should exercise extreme caution when approaching checkpoints that have been recently under attack, are imposing a curfew, or guarding the entrance of sensitive facilities. NGOs should consider the risks of using 4x4 vehicles, which could be mistaken for military vehicles. Likelihood of mistaken targeting can increase during periods of low visibility (fog, sandstorms, dawn or dusk, etc…).


Risk

Collateral exposure to GoS/OAG conflict activity: exposure to GoS and OAG conflict activity was previously the main driver of NGO incidents in the North, until the so-called “demilitarized” zone was established in September. Should large-scale conflict activity resume between the two actors, NGOs operating near frontlines would once again be at risk of being impacted by crossfire, and all NGOs at risk of impact from GoS/GoR airstrikes throughout the region. 

Mitigation

NGOs are advised to update and implement protection strategies that mitigate against the risk of aerial and indirect ground fire attacks, including infrastructure security measures (basements, bunkers, treatment of windows) but also careful monitoring of shifts in frontline conflict activity. Hibernation and evacuation policies should be re-assessed and adapted after major changes in the conflict context.