Syria humanitarian response (Issue 12)

09 October 2012

9 October 2012
Damascus, Syria

situational overview

The humanitarian situation in Syria has remained grave over the past week. Intense armed conflict persists in Aleppo, Deraa, and Rif Damascus. Based on earlier assessments, UNRWA estimates that 225,000 Palestine refugees in Syria are directly affected by the conflict. There are currently a total of 1,551 registered Palestine refugees who have fled Syria for Jordan. The number of Palestine refugees from Syria that have approached UNRWA in Lebanon is estimated to be approximately 7,000 individuals (1,600 households). The rate at which requests for assistance are being presented suggests that the population in need may soon surpass the planning figure on which UNRWAs Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan was based.


  • Dera‘a: Intensive security operations and shelling around Mzerieb and Deraa camp resulted in the death of at least 16 refugees. The majority of camp residents fled to seek places of safety;
  • Aleppo: Ongoing hostilities continued throughout the city and surrounding areas. Several vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) detonated in the city centre, one of which caused damage to UNRWAs area office
  • Delivery of food baskets to Neirab camp continued.
  • Damascus: Hostilities continued in areas to the north-west and north-east of Rif Damascus City. Yarmouk and surrounding areas remained relatively calm;
  • Homs: Intense clashes continued in areas around the camp. A number of shells landed in the camp, injuring one refugee and causing minor damage to buildings.

Violence and displacement resulting from conflict throughout Syria continue to exacerbate the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees. Food remains a critical priority for all, and non-food items included in UNRWAs response plan, in particular mattresses, blankets, and cooking sets, are needed. Currently, there are 3,146 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in ten UNRWA school buildings, representing a decrease of approximately 50 per cent since 27 September. The displaced population residing in UNRWA school buildings is comprised of predominantly women (approximately 31 per cent) and children (approximately 42 per cent).

  1. Damascus

Intensive security operations and armed conflict continued in the north-east and north-west of Rif Damascus. Yarmouk remained relatively calm despite reports of security operations and exchange of arms fire in adjacent areas. Tensions were high in the south-west of Rif Damascus including Seyda Zeinab, Husseiniyeh, and Sbeineh. Access to the camp in Khan Eshieh was limited due to clashes around the area of Artouz. UNRWA facilities were operational with the exception of Douma and Dummar facilities which have not functioned for several weeks on account of insecure conditions.

There has been a significant decrease of 59 per cent of IDPs sheltered in seven UNRWA school buildings in Damascus as many of the displaced families have returned to their homes or moved to other temporary accommodation.

IDPs accommodated in UNRWA school buildings in Damascus as of 04 October 2012
Khan Eshieh
  1. Aleppo

There was little activity in the city centre as clashes continued throughout surrounding areas, particularly in the north and in the old city. This week, the detonation of VBIEDs resulted in an unconfirmed number of deaths, injuries, displacement and damage to infrastructure and buildings, including the UNRWA Area Office. Three displaced families took refuge in the damaged UNRWA Office. They have since left and repairs to the office are underway. Neirab and Ein el Tal camps remain calm. Despite the challenge of humanitarian access to Aleppo, UNRWA distributed food baskets to approximately 8,000 Palestine refugee families over the past two weeks.

IDPs in UNRWA facilities in Aleppo as of 04 October 2012
Ein el Tal
  1. Dera‘a

Intermittent shelling and conflict around the village of Mzerieb and Deraa camp has resulted in the reported deaths of at least 16 refugees. This weeks violence in Deraa camp forced the majority of camp refugees to flee to neighbouring villages. Movement on the Mzerieb-Deraa road was restricted. UNRWA Area Office and facilities were operational. Given the frequency of shelling in the vicinity of Deraa camp, consideration is being given to other safer locations for offering health and education services. Food and cash distribution are being planned for Deraa area. The increasingly volatile situation in Deraa has meant that the school in Jilleen is the only operational UNRWA school in the area. Parents are unwilling to send children to school because of security risks.

  1. Hama

The area remains calm with UNRWA facilities operational.

  1. Latakia

Despite the increased security presence throughout the town, the area remains calm and UNRWA facilities are operational.

  1. Homs

There have been intensive clashes, including the use of aircraft and shelling, in the area of Homs this week. There have been reports of shelling in the immediate vicinity of the camp with at least one shell impacting the camp and injuring a refugee child. The city centre remains inaccessible with the main road to Hama reportedly blocked and roads to Damascus and Latakia (not through the city centre) accessible. UNRWA facilities were operational.


There is currently a total of 1,551 registered Palestine refugees who have fled Syria for Jordan (data tabulated as of 04 October), representing an eight per-cent increase over the course of this week. Of this total number, there are 169 refugees based in Cyber City.

UNRWA continues to coordinate with international and governmental stakeholders in meeting the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Jordan. The Agency remains concerned about reported cases of refoulement of refugees attempting to cross into Jordan and continues to discuss such cases with the relevant authorities.


The number of Palestine refugees from Syria that have approached UNRWA in Lebanon is estimated to be approximately 7,000 individuals (1,600 households). Hundreds of Palestine refugee families cross the Lebanon-Syria border on a weekly basis.

On 28-30 September, distributions of non-food items (NFIs) were coordinated by UNRWA, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). NFI distributions took place in three Beirut camps (Shatila, Burj Barajneh and Mar Elias) with the support of donations from the ICRC. The camps popular committees carried out the distributions to displaced Palestine refugee households following consultations on the beneficiary lists made through the local coordination mechanism. In Beqaa, the Danish Refugee Council also began distribution of NFIs. UNRWA distributed NFIs in Ein el Hilweh and Mieh Mieh camps, as well as at Saida gatherings over the past week.

UNRWA contributed USD 4,500 to a local NGO in Ein el Hilweh camp for the rehabilitation of Al Kifah School, which the NGO has converted into collective housing for displaced Palestine refugees.

Displaced Palestine refugee families receive fully-funded primary-health consultations and medications from UNRWA health clinics. During August-September, there were 42 emergency cases involving displaced refugee patients who were admitted to hospitals through UNRWAs referral system.


Similar to their Syrian counterparts, Palestine refugee children throughout Syria have been deeply affected by the conflict. More than 2,000 government schools are non-operational many damaged, looted or destroyed while around 800 schools are hosting IDPs. There are currently ten UNRWA schools being used as temporary shelter in Damascus and Aleppo areas. UNRWA is planning for alternative education modalities for approximately 67,000 children in Syria and those who have fled to Jordan and Lebanon to ensure that their education can continue despite the security situation. There are currently 49 fully operational schools out of a total of 118 schools in Syria. Recent conflict in Deraa has led to the closure of all but one UNRWA school in Jilleen. In many cases, parents are unwilling to send their children to schools due to the high risks of exposure to violence.

There are currently 198 Palestine refugee students from Syria who are attending schools in Jordan. UNRWA has received over 800 applications from Palestine refugee families from Syria to enrol their children in UNRWA schools in Lebanon.

UNRWAs Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan of USD 53 million includes USD 5,226,324 to meet the growing emergency education needs of Palestine refugee children in Syria, as well as those who are currently in Lebanon and Jordan.

current funding requirement

UNRWA is seeking USD 54 million through the revised Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria and those who have fled across Syria‘s borders into neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan. The focus of UNRWA‘s response plan is Syria. UNRWA is seeking USD 44 million for the six-month period from September 2012 to February 2013 to address pressing humanitarian needs. The Agency is also requesting over USD 8 million to support Palestine refugees who have fled to Lebanon, and USD 1.5 million for those currently seeking refuge in Jordan.

So far, and since the launch of the previous regional response plan earlier this year, USD 13.84 million has been received from the United States, Italy, Sweden, CERF, ERF, the Bizkaia regional government and private donors. UNRWA is continuing negotiations with several donors for support to Palestine refugees affected by the crisis

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 69 million.

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