Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 60)

30 September 2013


Conflict is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps with shelling and clashes continuing to take place in and nearby a number of camps. A reported 1 Palestine Refugee (PR) was killed this week as a result. UNRWA estimates over 50% of registered PR are displaced either in Syria or to neighbouring countries.
Approximately 235,000 refugees are displaced in Syria with over 200,000 in Damascus, around 6,600 in Aleppo, 4,500 in Latakia, 3,050 in Hama, 6,450 in Homs and 13,100 in Dera’a. 9,105 PR from Syria (PRS) have registered with UNRWA for assistance in Jordan and 45,000 in Lebanon. UNRWA tracks reports of 6,000 PRS in Egypt, 1,100 in Libya, 1,000 in Gaza, numbers Turkey and UNHCR reports up to 1000 fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

1. Situation summary

  • Despite considerable challenges UNRWA is continuing to deliver emergency relief, health and education services to PR across Syria.
  • Intermittent hostilities continued around Yarmouk and Sbeineh camps. Several shells impacted in Yarmouk reportedly killing 1 PR, in Qabr Essit camp reportedly injuring 3 children and in Sbeineh without related casualties.
  • A number of mortar rounds detonated near to UNRWAs Aleppo office during the week but with no reports of casualties. An alleged airstrike near Mzerieb village caused minor damage to an UNRWA school and health centre but again no casualties. Fuel was also stolen from UNRWA vehicles.
  • All 4 Area Offices and Syria Field Office in Damascus operational all week with most staff attending.
  • 8 staff members killed in the conflict, 17 staff currently detained or reported missing and 14 staff injured. 21 UNRWA vehicles stolen and not accounted for.
  • UNRWA has activated several emergency preparedness measures in response to the current situation to ensure the safety and security of its staff, continuity of operations and contingency for different situations. International staff remain in Damascus and, at this stage, the Agency does not plan any reduction or suspension of humanitarian operations


UNRWA is sheltering 8,506 individuals in 19 Agency facilities. 86% of these, 7,315 are PR (see table 1). UNRWA is continuing to shelter some of the highest numbers of IDPs in its facilities since the start of the year. A further 3,968 PR are being sheltered in 13 non-UNRWA facilities in Aleppo, Latakia and Damascus. Nearly 18,000 PR have been identified or approached UNRWA having fled from other areas:

  • 3,004 in Hama Camp from Yarmouk and Ein El Tal;
  • 6,420 in Homs Camp having fled Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside; and
  • 4,318 in Latakia camp having fled from Yarmouk and Ein El Tal.

2. Humanitarian Response


Emergency preparations

UNRWA is activating a number of emergency preparedness measures including identifying space for potential additional temporary collective shelters; increasing security at its facilities where possible; contingency plans for business continuity; establishing a warden system for staff; prepositioning medical supplies and equipment, food and NFIs including construction of additional storage facilities; advancing distributions and additional coordination with the Agency’s other field offices;

Education in Emergency

  • 37,108 PR children are attending UNRWA schools in Syria. 37 UNRWA schools are open and UNRWA is also providing schooling to PR children at 38 government schools in areas where UNRWA schools have been damaged, are not accessible or are now temporary collective shelters due to the conflict.
  • 1,580 UNRWA teachers are working to provide education to PR in Syria. Ongoing development of self-learning materials and works to improve government schools being used by UNRWA.
  • See for UNRWAs back to school campaign including videos and stories of PR in Syria and PRS in Lebanon and Jordan.

Engaging Youth

Conducted an updated needs assessment for interventions in Damascus collective shelters. Start up support being piloted with 2 groups of women at Safad collective center after they participated in hairdressing and knitting/embroidery courses to be able to sell their products and services. Two new specializations have been added to upcoming vocational courses at DTC and Khan Dunoun. Searching for new employers in areas where staff and beneficiaries have relocated to.

Health in Emergency

  • Health centres and points: 5 health centres operational in Damascus; and 1 each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. 5 health points supporting areas of high concentration of displaced PR in Damascus and 1 in Aleppo. 1 new health point being equipped and 3 more planned in Damascus.
  • Medical supplies: stock received for next 12 months of which 4 months supply distributed to each area in June/ July. Supplies now available until mid-October. First 100 first aid kits received from Palestine Red Crescent (PRC).
  • Hospitalisation: reimbursements of non-contracted hospital bills, granting PR in Syria access to health facilities across the country.
  • Infectious diseases: Vaccination working well, ongoing close cooperation with WHO and PRC.
  • Increase in prevalence of psycho-social trauma, stress/anxiety disorders reported.

Emergency Relief

  • Cash assistance: 2nd round distribution ongoing targeting 420,000 PR with SYP 6000 per person which will be completed by end of August. 101,048 families have received assistance so far in Damascus. Emergency cash distributions taking place in Aleppo for over 4,000 families. A 2nd round of cash distribution started this week in Dera’a for 6,000 families.  3rd round of cash assistance being implemented in Damascus has so far benefited 34,985 families.
  • National cash transfer company started working in Damascus and Dera’a which has significantly improved the delivery rate for cash assistance.
  • Food and NFI distributions: The 1st round of food distributions was completed this week with 98,523 families receiving food boxes across Syria. 6 distribution centres operational in Damascus.
  • Continuing work with Iraqi PR in Syria including regular counselling and visits in cooperation with UNHCR and local partners.

Water and sanitation in emergency

  • Sanitation: Continuing to provide regular sanitation services to all PR camps and UNRWA facilities. Garbage collection and removal on a regular basis for all PR camps and temporary collective centres but one. Regular maintenance of 200 UNRWA facilities and upgrading sewage systems.
  • Water: Work being conducted on well in Neirab and installing a new water pump. Gaining government approval for digging a new well in Hama camp. Installing shower units and shelter improvements in temporary collective shelters.
  • Winterization: Works progressing on winterization activities for temporary collective shelters.


UNRWA financed 444 microfinance loans in September valued at SYP 15.93 million, with 131 loans financed in Tartous, 125 in Latakia, 125 in Sweyda and 63 financed in Damascus. Newly established branch offices in Latakia, Tartous and Sweyda are increasing the outreach of the programme.
Survey completed on the impact of the crisis on the living conditions of the microfinance clients, their households and enterprises. The first in a series of quarterly reports on socioeconomic conditions in Syria, funded by the European Union (EU) and contracted from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research was published online. Find the report at

UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria in 2013 cumulative since March 2011 as of 19 September 2013UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria in 2013 cumulative since March 2011 as of 19 September 2013

UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 19 September 2013UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 19 September 2013


Collective centres: rehabilitated 13 collective shelters in Saida, Tyre and CLA for 132 families. Assessed and approved 5 more shelter rehabilitations and carrying out rehabilitation works in nine shelters for 61 families. 7 more rehabilitation requests under assessment. 
Education: 6,148 PRS children (48% of school age PRS in Lebanon) are attending UNRWA schools in this new school year, 20% are integrated into UNRWAs regular classes for PR in Lebanon. 200 additional teaching staff have been recruited and trained as well as psycho-social counselors

Health: Continue to deliver medical consultations and medications through UNRWAs 28 health centres which covers 50% of tertiary emergency and life-saving conditions.

Protection: Continue to monitor and offer advice and assistance to PRS crossing at the border and advocate with Lebanese Government for equal treatment of all refugees at the border.

Relief: Preparation of winterization activities scheduled to be implemented from November 2013-March 2014 including mapping needs and gaps with other UN agencies and partners. Preparing and planning for winter NFI distributions.


Refugees per Area

9,105 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) (2,242 PRS families) are recorded with UNRWA in Jordan and receive relief, education, health and protection services.

52% are female and 30% are female-headed households. 48% under the age of 18 and the average family size is 4.1. Most reside in communities with host families or in rental premises mainly in Irbid, Zarqa and Amman. 205 reside in Cyber City, the government appointed facility in Irbid.

57% of PRS have Jordanian nationality/documentation; 22% Palestinian; and 20% Syrian. 80% hold passports or travel documents but 1.4% have no documentation.

The majority (97%) come from 3 Syrian governorates: Rural Damascus (42%), Damascus City (35%) and Dera’a (20%). A large number are assessed to live in abject poverty. Their precarious legal status means they face difficulties in relation to civil processes and access to services and employment.
Education: Approximately 800 PRS children have enrolled in UNRWA schools in Jordan since the start of this school year.
Relief: UNRWA is prepositioning essential NFIs for up to 5,000 PRS newcomers with OCHA funding. Approximately 1,000 PRS families will receive mattresses, blankets, hygiene hits, kitchen sets, lanterns, buckets, towels, tarps and high energy biscuits.

Health: Continuing to provide free primary health care to PRS in all UNRWA clinics and referrals with full coverage to government hospitals. Caseworkers continue to refer PRS with psychosocial problems.
Staff training

Staff training: With funding from ECHO, approximately 20 staff from UNRWAs Jordan and Syria offices participated in a 3 day Hazardous Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) course to better equip front-line staff with skills and techniques to operate in hazardous and unstable environments and enable business continuity.

UNRWA staff participate in HEAT training

1. Security summary


Damascus / Rif Damascus: In the East sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling early week around Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun became intermittent mid-week with extensive security force operations continuing over the weekend. Intermittent hostilities in several adjacent areas of Harasta, Erbeen, Zamalka, Eastern Ghouta and Mleha all week. In the South, intermittent and sporadic clashes and shelling all week in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Douma, Ramadan and Qabr Essit. Several shells impacted Yarmouk camp reportedly killing 1 PR. Shells impacted Sbeineh camp without related casualties and a shell impacted Qabr Essit camp over the weekend reportedly injuring 3 children.

Sporadic clashes and shelling continued early week in the southwest including around Darayya, Moadhamiyeh and Khan Eshieh accompanied with extensive security force operations around Darayya and Moadhamiyeh late week. 1 shell impacted Khan Eshieh over the weekend with reports of possible casualties and the roads to the camps remain cut off or blocked by the security forces.

Yarmouk and Sbeineh camps remain sealed off with access blocked by the security forces. Less than 30% of Yarmouk residents remain and less than 5% in Sbeineh with armed opposition elements present in both. Facilities also remain closed in Douma, Jobar, Qaboun and Barzeh due to ongoing conflict in and around them. PR that remain in these camps are extremely vulnerable with limited or no flight options.

Aleppo: Sporadic clashes and shelling continued in some areas of the city all week especially Bustan Al Basha and Leramon. A mortar round detonated 50 metres from UNRWAs office mid-week and 5 more over the weekend although with no reports of casualties. Ein El Tal: A reported 30 families have returned to the camp but it otherwise remains deserted and occupied by armed opposition groups with the main road to the camp blocked. Neirab camp and surrounding areas remained relatively calm most of the week as in previous week.

Dera’a: Intensive shelling in the vicinity of the camp mid-week followed by sporadic shelling for the remainder of the week. 3 shells impacted the camp over the weekend but with no reports of casualties.

Mzerieb: Sporadic shelling in areas surrounding the camp from mid-week. An alleged airstrike in the immediate vicinity of the village late week caused minor damage to an UNRWA school and health centre but no casualties. Relatively calm over the weekend. Jillien remained relatively throughout the week with the main road still blocked but the village accessible from side roads.

Homs: Intensive shelling of Homs city mid-week, relatively calm until the weekend which saw intensive clashes and sporadic shelling in the Old City. Homs camp remained relatively calm with most facilities operational. Hama and Latakia: Both remained relatively calm all week with all facilities operational in both camps.

Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 24 September






Damascus Training Centre





Damascus (Jaramana Camp)





Damascus (Mezzeh)





Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)





Damascus (Ramadan Camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)





Damascus (Khan Dunoun Camp)





Damascus (Al Qaboun)


























The number of IDPs in UNRWA facilities decreased by 148 from the previous report with the biggest decrease in Khan Dunoun (-114) and Jaramana Camps (-30) in Damascus and the largest decrease in children (-112) compared to female and male. Most other UNRWA facilities saw no change.

IDPs in UNRWA shelters monthly peaks

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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