Syria humanitarian response (Issue 15)

25 October 2012

25 October 2012
Damascus, Syria

situational overview

The humanitarian situation in Syria has further deteriorated during the last week. Intense armed conflict persists in Aleppo and Damascus/Rif Damascus. Based on earlier assessments, UNRWA estimates that 225,000 Palestine refugees in Syria are directly affected by the conflict. Currently, there is a total of 1,557 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 8,000 individuals (1,860 households).

UNRWA has received requests for cash assistance from approximately 59,000 households in Syria, with projections that the current rate of requests will mean that the Agency will receive 100,000 applications for cash assistance by the end of the year.

The rate at which requests for assistance are being presented suggests that the population in need has surpassed the planning figure on which UNRWA‘s Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan was based.

syria

At a glance:

  • There have been intensified hostilities and an increase in reported deaths in the areas of Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, and Damascus/Rif Damascus.

  • An UNRWA school attendant from Homs was detained by security forces while visiting Damascus. This is the fifth case of an area staff member being detained in the last two months.

  • An UNRWA mini-bus was carjacked in Yarmouk this week; the sixth such incident since the start of the conflict.

Exposure to violence and displacement throughout Syria continues to increase the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees. It is estimated that approximately 60 per cent of Palestine refugees have been displaced several times throughout the conflict. Food remains a critical priority for all, and non-food items included in UNRWA‘s response plan (in particular: mattresses, hygiene kits, and cooking sets) are needed.

UNRWA is also focusing on support for Palestine refugees during the upcoming winter season. Conflict-impacted refugees are expected to face grave challenges during the winter season in Syria, as many of them are no longer able to afford warm clothes, blankets, and quilts. Fuel availability is decreasing and the water supply may become problematic in certain areas. Furthermore, many refugees are sheltered in damaged buildings that will no longer offer adequate protection during the winter months. Without critical winterisation supplies and equipment, refugees will be increasingly vulnerable to winter-related illness. UNRWA seeks support from donors for projects involving the procurement of winter items or the provision of cash to refugees, allowing them to purchase warm clothes and household items for winter.

Currently there are 1,461 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in six UNRWA school buildings. The displaced population residing in UNRWA school buildings is predominantly composed of women (approximately 36 per cent) and children (approximately 33 per cent).

Damascus

Damascus/Rif Damascus: Clashes continue in various areas of northeastern Damascus/Rif Damascus, with the majority of incidents reportedly shifting to Harasta, Erbeen, Douma and Zalka, Jdeidat Artouz, Sbeniah, and Barzeh. There have been reports of small arms fire in the area of Ruken Eddin (north Damascus). There is increased tension in Yarmouk, with clashes taking place in the area of Palestine and 30th Streets, resulting in reported deaths of at least ten individuals. The clashes have resulted in intermittent access to the camp. An UNRWA mini-bus was carjacked in Yarmouk this week, representing the sixth such incident since the start of the conflict. An UNRWA school attendant from Homs was detained by the security forces while visiting Damascus. This is the fifth case of an area staff member being detained in the last two months. The majority of facilities in the Damascus area are operational with the exception of Douma and Jobar. This week, UNRWA distributed cash for rent to 593 Iraqi-Palestine refugees and cash for food to 632 Iraqi-Palestine refugees in the Damascus area.

IDPs in two UNRWA school buildings in Damascus as of 18 October 2012

Area

Men

Women

Children

Total

Yarmouk

165

261

110

536

Khan Eshieh

39

61

130

230

Ramadan

45

49

78

172

Total

249

371

318

938

Aleppo

Intensified clashes continue in the northern area of Aleppo, and particularly in Sahur, Sha‘ar, Midan and Suleiman al Halabi. UNRWA facilities are operational in Neirab and Ein el Tal despite growing concerns over access to the camps. There were reports of a refugee killed by crossfire at the entrance of the city.

IDPs in four UNRWA school buildings in Aleppo as of 18 October 2012

Area

Men

Women

Children

Total

Neirab

87

91

76

254

Ein el Tal

41

69

159

269

Total

128

160

235

523

Dera‘a

There has been little change in the situation in Dera‘a this week. Sporadic shelling in the vicinity of Mzerieb is ongoing. UNRWA facilities remain operational.

Hama

Despite a relatively calm situation, there has been intermittent disruption to the communication/mobile network coverage in the area. UNRWA facilities are operational.

Latakia

The situation remains calm in Latakia and UNRWA facilities are operational.

Homs

The city centre remains inaccessible due to high risk of exposure to violence. The main road to Hama is inaccessible while the roads to Damascus and Latakia remain open. There were reports of clashes in the area between the camp and Bab Amr and the area of Khaldiyeh.

jordan

Based on the recently-established UNRWA data system, there are 1,557 registered Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Jordan. Of this total number, there are 164 refugees based in Cyber City. It is estimated that the majority of Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Jordan are women and children (76 per cent).

UNRWA continues to co-ordinate with international and governmental stakeholders to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Jordan. The Agency remains concerned about reported cases of refoulement of refugees who have entered or have attempted to cross into Jordan. UNRWA continues to liaise on such cases with the relevant authorities.

lebanon

On 19 October, a vehicle-borne explosive device detonated in a residential area in Ashrafieh, killing civilians and the head of intelligence for the Internal Security Forces. In Tripoli, North Lebanon, sporadic clashes continue that have resulted in seven reported deaths and many scores of injuries.

Despite the overall deterioration of security in Lebanon, UNRWA continues to provide child-friendly spaces for Palestine refugee children from Syria to continue their education. It is anticipated that the second phase of the programme will commence in January 2013 with a focus on the introduction of teaching. The third phase is aimed at providing children with regular teaching, based on the Syrian curriculum.

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 16.673 million has been received from the United States, Italy, Sweden (Sida), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Emergency Response Fund (ERF), the Bizkaia regional government, the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), 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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