NEF’s work in Syria dates back to its earliest days, when it helped to resettle and provide relief to Armenian and Syrian refugees and orphans from the Ottoman Empire. As the humanitarian crisis abated, Syria became a proving ground for many of NEF’s pioneering economic and social development activities in agriculture, vocational training, and youth development.
In recent years, NEF worked in and around Damascus to support vulnerable women and girls – both Iraqi refugees and Syrians – who were struggling to find work, urgently needed health care, and other critical services. Many of them were recent widows and orphans learning how to support their families for the first time.
Today, we are actively monitoring the situation in Syria and evaluating opportunities to re-enter the country to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction efforts.
Supporting Vulnerable Women and Girls in Syria
Through this comprehensive initiative, NEF worked in and around Damascus to support vulnerable women and girls—both Iraqi refugees and Syrians—who were struggling to find work and urgently needed critical services, especially healthcare. Many of them were recent widows and orphans learning how to support their families for the first time. One of the project’s primary goals was to reduce prostitution and forced labor among women and girls who have little education and few options to earn an income.
NEF and a group of local partners collaborated to provide short- and long-term support through basic and reproductive health awareness, as well as counseling services. NEF also helped them develop such income-generating opportunities as at-home and community-oriented work and small-scale entrepreneurship. NEF and its partners also conducted reproductive health awareness sessions and identified and trained Syrian doctors and nurses, as well as Iraqi volunteers, to conduct the sessions and provide ongoing support to women and girls in such areas as preventive medicine, family planning, pre- and post-natal care, and nutrition.