Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 61)

19 October 2013
Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 61)


Conflict is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps with shelling and clashes continuing to take place in and nearby a number of them. A reported 4 Palestine Refugees (PR) were killed in the last 2 weeks as a result. UNRWA estimates over 50% of registered PR are displaced in Syria or in 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. 9,218 PR from Syria (PRS) have registered with UNRWA for assistance in Jordan and 47,000 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 and sporadic hostilities continued in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Douma and Qabr Essit, Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun. 1 PR was reportedly killed in Yarmouk as a result, 2 in Darayya and 1 in Khan Eshieh as a result of shelling.
  • Yarmouk and Sbeineh camps continue to be sealed off with UNRWA increasingly concerned about the well-being of those trapped.
  • All 4 Area Offices and Syria Field Office in Damascus operational all week with most staff attending.
  • 8 staff members killed in the conflict, 18 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 8,291 (-215 from the previous report) displaced PR and Syrians in 18 Agency facilities in Syria. 86% of these, 7,130 are PR (see table 1). There has been a slight decline in the number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA shelters since August but it remains well over 8,000. A further 3,946 (-22 from the previous report) PR are being sheltered in 14 non-UNRWA facilities in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia. 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.
  1. 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

  • Over 40,000 PR children are enrolled in UNRWA schools in Syria. 6,000 are in regular education with some schools working on a triple shift system. Over 35,000 are in 43 governmental schools the Ministry of Education agreed for UNRWA to use in the afternoon 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 /back2school for UNRWAs back to school campaign including videos and stories of PR in Syria and PRS in Lebanon and Jordan.

Engaging Youth

  • Youth development and community support: 1125 students receiving psychosocial support, first aid training, life skills and extra-curricular/ stress-release activities in UNRWA camps and temporary collective shelters in Damascus, Hama and Latakia. Preparing to extend to further camps.
  • Vocational education: 1376 students undertaking a wide range of short-term vocational education courses in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia including accountancy, electronics, hear and beauty, cooking, graphic design, human resources and nursing. Further courses being prepared.
  • Career guidance: 444 young people receiving educational and career guidance in Damascus, Dera’a, Homs and Latakia.
  • Business development: 34 young people in Damascus undertaking activities including start-up training and follow-up. Preparation for extending this to Homs.
  • Continuing education: 1939 young people undertaking courses in English, French, computer skills, literacy and numeracy in Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia with preparations to extend further.

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.
  • 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: 3rd round distribution ongoing targeting 474,896 PR with SYP 12,000 per person and should be completed by the end of October if sufficient funding secured. 57,245 PR families have received assistance so far in Damascus. Preparations to start a 3rd round in central Syria.
  • 2nd round of cash distributions restarted in Dera’a to complete cash assistance to 7,000 PR families.
  • National cash transfer company approved to extend its services to include Homs, Hama and Latakia.
  • Food and NFI distributions: 2nd round of food distributions started last week with plan to reach 84,951 families in Damascus. So far 7,655 food baskets distributed in Damascus, 2,171 in Latakia and 1,669 in Hama. 6 distribution centres continue to be 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.

Portfolio at risk is less than 1%. The programme had to write off 8,534 loans as a result of the conflict, of which 13% are now closed and 17% are collected from.

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

Graph 1: UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria cumulative since March 2011 as of 06 October 2013


Graph 2: UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 06 October 2013



Collective centres

Rehabilitated 13 collective centres 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.



6,678 PRS children attending UNRWA schools in this new school year. 81% are attending special classes for PRS and 19% 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. Back to school kits and textbooks were distributed to all PRS students. UNRWA is actively encouraging parents to enrol their children in school and has prepared a strategy for both the continuing education needs of those who are currently enrolled as well as newcomers.


PRS in Nablus Preparatory School for Girls in Saida, Lebanon receive back to school kits from representatives of EU, UNRWA and UNICEF.

See the link for information on the back to school activities in Lebanon: /newsroom/press-releases/back-school-lebanon-unrwa-unicef-and-eu



Continue to deliver medical consultations and medications through UNRWAs 28 health centres which covers 50% of tertiary emergency and life-saving conditions. Responded to an outbreak of diarrhoel disease in PRS Qarameh gathering, adjacent to Ein el Hilweh Palestine camp from 12-14 September that claimed the lives of two children. In cooperation with Oxfam, UNICEF and Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD) UNRWA undertook a coordinated rapid emergency response to prevent the further spread of the disease and to improve hygiene conditions.


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


Preparation of winterization activities scheduled to be implemented from November 2013-March 2014, preparing and planning for winter NFI distributions. ATM cards distributed to approximately 13,000 PRS families across Lebanon in preparation for cash distributions from 2-9 October. LBP50,000  $33) per person will be credited to the cards on these dates and during the same period families of 1 to 4 members will also receive LBP 200,000 ($133) and  families of 4 and more members LBP 300,000 ($200) for housing assistance.



9,218 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) (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. 196 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 (98%) come from 3 Syrian governorates: Rural Damascus (41%), Damascus City (36%) and Dera’a (21%). 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 927 PRS children have enrolled in UNRWA schools in Jordan since the start of this school year, with an increase of 127 in the last 2 weeks.

Relief: So far in 2013 UNRWA has distributed approximately USD 1.4m in over 27,000 payments to PRS.

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. So far in 2013 PRS have made 12,598 free consultations.

Graph 3: PRS health consultations in Jordan, January – end September 2013

Funding: UNRWA has appealed for USD 7.1 m to provide humanitarian assistance and protection for up to 10,000 PRS in Jordan in 2013. The Agency has received pledges or contributions for USD 4.7 m from US, Japan, Kuwait, DFID, EU - OCHA (ERF & CERF) and ECHO, SDC and Belgium. The funding rate is currently 66%.

Security summary


Damascus / Rif Damascus: In the East sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling continued around Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun with continuing extensive security force operations in the areas. This became intensive at the end of the reporting period with reports of an explosion in Jobar and intermittent hostilities continued in adjacent areas of Zamalka and Eastern Ghouta.

In the South, intermittent and sporadic clashes and shelling continued in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Douma and Qabr Essit although Ramadan was relatively calm.1 PR was reportedly killed in Yarmouk due to hostilities and some shells impacted in Sbeineh but without related casualties.

Sporadic clashes and shelling continued in the southwest including around Darayya, Moadhamiyeh and Khan Eshieh accompanied with extensive security force operations around Darayya and Moadhamiyeh. The main roads to the areas remained cut off or blocked by the security forces. Two PR were reportedly killed in Darayya due to the hostilities. Shells impacted in Khan Eshieh camp on a number of days and one PR reportedly died as a result.

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: Intensive clashes and shelling in the city at the beginning of the reporting period centred around Bustan Al Qaser became varyingly sporadic and calm for the rest of the period. 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. Nevertheless, it remained relatively calm. Neirab camp and surrounding areas remained relatively calm as in previous weeks with all facilities operational.

Dera’a: Intensive clashes and shelling early in the period in areas surrounding the camp of Al Mahata and Dera’a Al Balad became sporadic for the rest of the period. All facilities operational as usual. Mzerieb: Varying from relatively calm to sporadic clashes throughout the reporting period in the vicinity of the village. All facilities operational throughout. Jillien remained mostly relatively calm throughout the period with occasional sporadic clashes and shelling in the vicinity of the village. The main road is still blocked but the village remains accessible from side roads.

Homs: Intensive clashes and shelling possibly including rockets in several parts of the city early in the reporting period including the UN hub hotel became intermittent and sporadic for most of the period and then again intensive at the end of the period. Homs camp remained relatively calm throughout with all facilities operational. Hama: Reports of a VBIED early in the reporting period otherwise relatively calm. The camp remained relatively calm throughout and all facilities operational. Latakia: remained relatively calm throughout with all facilities operational in the camp.

Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 6 October 2013 showing variation (in brackets) with last update Issue 60






Damascus Training Centre  (DTC)

409 (+9)

433 (+9)

607 (+5)

1449 (+23)

Damascus (Jaramana Camp)





Damascus (Mezzeh)

177 (+12)

165 (+15)

253 (+29)

595 (+56)

Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)

57 (-39)

52 (-40)

68 (-50)

177 (-129)

Damascus (Ramadan Camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)


139 (-7)

304 (+17)

612 (+10)

Damascus (Khan Dunoun Camp)





Damascus (Al Qaboun)

31 (-4)

23 (-17)

43 (-13)

97 (-34)












17 (-40)

16 (-41)

32 (-60)

65 (-141)


2208 (-62)

2157 (-81)

3926 (-72)

8291 (-215)


The number of displaced PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities in Syria decreased by 215 from the previous update report (Issue 60) with the largest decreases in Khan Eshieh (-129) in Damascus and Latakia (-141). A smaller decrease was recorded in Al Qaboun in Damascus (-34). Three camps in Damascus saw small increases: DTC (+23), Mezzah (+56) and Rukn Eddin (+10). All other UNRWA facilities saw no change. This shows a slight decline in numbers as in previous weeks as shown below.

Graph 4: Displaced Palestinian and Syrian refugees in UNRWAs facilities in Syria, monthly peaks