Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 62)

29 October 2013
Syria Crisis Response Update (issue no 62)


Conflict is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps with shelling and clashes continuing to take place in and nearby a number of them. A reported 25 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. 9,657 PR from Syria (PRS) have registered with UNRWA for assistance in Jordan and 49,000 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 including airstrikes, shelling and mortars continued in and around the camps of Yarmouk, Husseiniyah, Sbeineh, Barzeh, Jobar, Qaboun, Khan Eshieh and Dera’a. A total 25 PR were reportedly killed as a result of the hostilities: 12 in Yarmouk, 8 in Dera’a, 3 in Husseiniyah and 2 in Khan Eshieh. This is the highest number of reported PR deaths for months.
  • 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, 19 staff currently detained or reported missing and 14 injured. 21 UNRWA vehicles stolen and not accounted for. 4 staff members detained in the last 2 weeks in Damascus. Damage caused to UNRWAs Women’s Centre and Health Centre in Dera’a camp due to shelling.
  • Altercations between IDPs in an UNRWA temporary collective centre in Damascus led to injuries and the intervention of contracted security guards.
  • Dozens of PR reported to have perished off the coasts of Egypt and Malta as they tried to reach Europe by boat.


UNRWA is sheltering 8,272 (-19 from the previous report) displaced PR and Syrians in 18 Agency facilities in Syria. 86% of these, 7,114 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 3,523 (-423 from the previous report) PR are being sheltered in 13 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


Education in Emergency

  • Over 41,000 PR children are enrolled in UNRWA schools in Syria. Over 15,500 are attending 39 regular UNRWA schools with some working on a triple shift system. Approx. 25,000 are attending 43 governmental schools the Ministry of Education agreed for UNRWA to use in the afternoon where UNRWA schools have been damaged, are not accessible or are temporary collective shelters. UNRWA is upgrading some of the schools where necessary.
  • 39 out of 118 UNRWA schools are operating, 71 are closed due to damage or insecurity, 8 because they are operating as temporary collective shelters for PR and displaced Syrians. A further 8 schools are partially hosting displaced PR and Syrians and also operating as schools.
  • 1,783 UNRWA teachers are working to provide education to PR in Syria and 18 psychosocial counselors have been recruited to work with the children. Self-learning materials are being prepared for all grades and subjects in coordination with Syrian Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
  • See 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 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. 6 health points supporting areas of high concentration of displaced PR in Damascus with a new centre opened in rural Damascus and 1 in Aleppo. 3 more health points are being 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 one month ago with plan to reach 84,951 families in Damascus. So far 14,015 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 the well in Neirab and installing a new water pump. Gaining government approval for digging a new well in Hama camp and providing safe drinking water to temporary collective shelters. Contracting to install shower units in 4 temporary collective shelters and ongoing shelter improvements.
  • Winterization: activities progressing 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


Approximately 49,000 PRS are in Lebanon. The majority 32% are in Saida, 19% are in Tyre, 17% in central Lebanon and 16% each in north Lebanon and Beqaa.

Collective centres

Rehabilitated 20 collective centres in Saida, Tyre and CLA for 179 families. Assessed and approved 6 more shelter rehabilitations and carrying out rehabilitation works in five shelters for 31 families. 2 more rehabilitation requests under assessment.


7,035 PRS children are attending UNRWA schools. The majority 80% are attending special classes for PRS focusing on subjects including Arabic, English and maths as well as recreational activities and 20% are integrated into UNRWAs regular classes for PR in Lebanon. A new special centre has been opened in Tyre to accommodate the additional students and 310 additional teaching staff have been recruited and trained as well as psycho-social counselors. Additional back to school kits were distributed when required. UNRWA is continuing to actively encourage PRS parents to enrol their children in school.


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


Rolling out emergency psychosocial support programming in cooperation with UNICEF which aims to establish child-friendly spaces in UNRWAs health clinics and facilitate access for PRS children to specialized psychosocial support activities.

Moved to cash distribution by ATM cards and distributed the cards to approximately 13,000 PRS families across Lebanon already credited with LBP50,000 ($33) per person. The cards enable PRS to withdraw cash at their convenience, reduce UNRWAs overhead costs and minimise security risks associated with cash-in-hand distributions.

UNRWA is participating in the preparation of the Syria Regional Response Plan for 2014 (RRP6), aimed to improve coordination with other implementing agencies and sharing responsibilities.



9,657 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. 56% of PRS have Jordanian nationality/documentation; 22% Palestinian; and 21% Syrian. 80% hold passports or travel documents but 1.4% have no documentation. The majority (96%) come from 3 Syrian governorates: Rural Damascus (40%), Damascus City (36%) 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 927 PRS children have enrolled in UNRWA schools in Jordan since the start of this school year. In addition to 651 that registered last school year this makes a total of 1598.

Relief: So far in 2013 UNRWA has distributed approximately USD 1.8m in over 30,000 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 5.6 m from US; Japan; Kuwait; DFID; EU - OCHA (ERF & CERF), ECHO; and New Zealand. The funding rate is currently 79%.

Security summary


Damascus / Rif Damascus: In the East intermittent clashes and shelling continued around Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun and adjacent areas of Zamalka and Eastern Ghouta but without accompanying extensive security force operations as seen in previous weeks. Hostilities became intensive in the middle of the period around Jobar with several mortars landing in adjacent areas and then subsided to intermittent. Most UNRWA facilities remain closed in the areas except 2 schools housing IDPs in Qaboun.

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. Intensive clashes and shelling in Yarmouk at the start of the reporting period included airstrikes. This subsided to intermittent but many shells continued to impact in the camp daily accompanied with reports of clashes in the camp. 12 PR were reportedly killed as a result of the hostilities. Intensive clashes and shelling also in Husseiniyah early in the reporting period reportedly killing 3 PR as a result. This subsided to intermittent but with ongoing security operations in the camp. The hostilities and number of PR reportedly killed are an increase on previous weeks.

Sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling continued in the southwest including around Darayya, Moadhamiyeh and Khan Eshieh. Shells impacted in Khan Eshieh almost daily and 2 PR were reportedly killed as a result of the hostilities. The main roads to the areas remained cut off or blocked by the security forces. The hostilities showed an increase in Khan Eshieh over previous weeks but stayed the same in Darayya and Moadhamiyeh.

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: Intermittent clashes and shelling in the city at the beginning of the reporting period continuing to centre around Bustan Al Qaser. This became intensive mid-week then subsided to intermittent/ sporadic for the remainder of the period, showing no large change with previous reporting periods. 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 as in previous reporting periods. 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 , especially Al Mahata with several shells impacting in the camp causing large damage to UNRWA facilities including the Women’s and Health Centre’s and reportedly killing 7 PR as a result and injuring at least 15. The camp was subsequently cut off by security forces and all facilities were closed. This represents a large increase on hostilities in previous weeks. Hostilities subsided to sporadic and facilities were opened then hostilities intensified again at the end of the reporting period with shelling, clashes and airstrikes in areas adjacent to the camp with 1 PR killed as a result. Mzerieb: Relatively calm for most of the reporting period with some sporadic shelling and all facilities operational throughout, as in previous reports. Jillien remained mostly relatively calm as in previous weeks with some sporadic shelling in surrounding areas. The main road to the village remains blocked it remains accessible from side roads.

Homs: Intensive clashes and shelling including with rockets and mortars throughout much of the reporting period accompanied which subsided slightly during Eid. Accompanying reports of residents fleeing towards Tartous. Homs camp remained relatively calm as in previous weeks with all facilities operational although a shell impacted in the camp very close to UNRWAs area office late in the reporting period. Hama: The camp remained relatively calm throughout and all facilities operational as in previous weeks. However, a VBIED was reported in the town late in the reporting period. Latakia: remained relatively calm throughout with all facilities operational in the camp as in previous weeks.

Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 21 October 2013 showing variation (in brackets) with last update Issue 61






Damascus Training Centre (DTC)





Damascus (Jaramana Camp)





Damascus (Mezzeh)





Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)

69 (+10)

60 (+8)

86 (+18)

215 (+38)

Damascus (Ramadan Camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)

165 (-4)

137 (-2)

253 (-51)

555 (-57)

Damascus (Khan Dunoun Camp)





Damascus (Al Qaboun)





















2216 (+8)

2163 (+6)

3898 (-33)

8272 (-19)


The number of displaced PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities in Syria overall decreased by 33 from the previous update report (Issue 61). There was an increase in Khan Eshieh (+38) in Damascus and a decrease in Rukn Eddin also in Damascus (-57). All other UNRWA facilities saw no change. This shows a smaller decrease than in previous reports.

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