New Mercy Corps Report: Nearly Two-Thirds Of Syrians Have Lost Jobs From Conflict


February 22, 2018

But research shows how civilians have learned to adapt

PORTLAND, ORE. – Syrians are adapting to the conflict raging throughout their country by finding new jobs, putting young people and women to work and relying on friends and social networks to feed, clothe and shelter their families, according to a two-year survey by the global organization Mercy Corps

“Before help arrives, people living through war are left to their own devices, trying to cope against all odds,” says Vaidehi Krishnan, a report co-author. “Many of them found ways to learn new skills and adapt to new ways of earning a living.”

Conflict is still widespread, with individuals reporting an average of two conflict incidents per week, and two-thirds of those surveyed losing their jobs. However, more than one third were able to find new sources of income, ranging from animal husbandry to teaching to cell phone repair. The survey also found:

  • Two-thirds of households do not have secure access to food despite three-quarters of households receiving humanitarian support in the past year.
  • Terror is pervasive. Nine out of ten people live in daily fear for their own safety and that of their families’ safety.

However, the research also shows what is possible:

  • Despite the widespread impact of the conflict, one-third of Syrians are finding ways to adapt their lives and livelihoods.
  • The percentage of young people working (26 percent) is more than double what it was prior to the conflict.
  • Households with access to functioning markets were more likely to find a new source of income.

    “While only peace and stability can make a true recovery possible for their country, Syrians have adapted, showing incredible resourcefulness and grit in the face of horrific conditions,” says Krishnan. “Still, more than 13.1 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, and in better ways than how it is currently designed and delivered.”

    In the past year, Mercy Corps has met the urgent needs of more than 950,000 people across Syria by distributing emergency cash, food, supplies, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, creating safe spaces for children and empowering those seeking to build new sources of income.

    Download the study, "The Wages of War"or visit our website to learn more and support Mercy Corps' work in Syria and around the world.

  • PDF icon NR Wages of War Paper Feb 2018.pdf