Syria crisis situation update (Issue 40)

01 April 2013
30 March 2013
Damascus, Syria

Regional Overview

The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, particularly in the areas of Damascus/Rif Damascus Governorate, Aleppo, Dera’a and Homs. Violence has led to displacement and compounded humanitarian needs. As the armed conflict has progressively escalated since the launch of UNRWA’s Syria Crisis Response 2013, the number of Palestine refugees in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance has risen to over 400,000 individuals. The number of Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Jordan has reached 4,856 individuals and approximately 33,000 refugees are in Lebanon.


  •  At least twenty refugees were killed as a result of hostilities during the last week, with two confirmed deaths in Dera’a and the rest around Damascus;
  • An UNRWA bus transporting staff to work was shot at in the eastern part of Damascus, in what is believed to be a random shooting;
  • Hostilities subsided considerably across Damascus and Rif Damascus Governorate, although a few shells impacted on Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Seyeda Zaynab and Husseiniyeh. A suicide bombing apparently targeted a senior cleric late last week, and a significant increase in mortars subsequently targeted the city centre;
  • The last week has seen a significant displacement of refugees in southern Rif Damascus Governorate, including the areas of Sbeineh, Seyeda Zaynab and Husseiniyeh;
  • Mortars impacted within the parking lot of the Sheraton hotel where international staff of other agencies are residing in Damascus;
  • Hostilities continue in various parts of Aleppo and around Nairab camp, especially the adjacent airport;
  • Intensive hostilities also continued in Homs, particularly around Bab Amr. There are reports that a stray shell impacted on the adjacent camp. For the most part, camps in the central area remained relatively calm;
  • The southern part of Dera’a town continues to see regular shelling, with clashes increasingly spreading to the centre of town. Security forces operations in the area and severe restrictions have significantly hampered UNRWA movements throughout the south. There are reports that the border to Jordan remains closed.

Despite security restrictions and limited access to conflict-affected areas, since the start of the conflict in March 2011, UNRWA’s network of some 3,600 staff has delivered food parcels to 30,166 families as well as 40,835 blankets, 2,829 hygiene kits, and 14,908 mattresses. UNRWA has provided cash assistance to 73,076 families since the start of the conflict.

Currently, there are approximately 13,971 IDPs sheltering in UNRWA-managed facilities in Syria, of which nearly 8,000 are in UNRWA buildings (e.g. schools and training centres) that are being used as make-shift emergency shelters. The IDPs are dependent on humanitarian assistance for their basic food, NFI and health needs.

IDP numbers in UNRWA facilities as of 25 March*:






Damascus Training Centre





Damascus (Jaramana Camp)





Damascus (Mezzeh)





Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)





Damascus (Ramadan Camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)





Damascus (Khan Dannoun Camp)




















 * Over the past weeks, UNRWA has been striving to locate displaced Palestine refugees. These efforts have been successful in locating 2,384 Palestine refugees at eight non-UNRWA facilities in Damascus. 2,132 Palestine refugees have been identified in Hama Camp, having come from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal. 6,074 refugees have made themselves known to UNRWA in Homs Camp, having fled from Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside. 3,381 refugees have made themselves known to UNRWA in Lattakia, having fled from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal. (Total: 13,971). UNRWA is providing food and NFI assistance to all displaced refugees who have approached the Agency.
Damascus / Rif Damascus:
The situation in Damascus/Rif Damascus Governorate remains unpredictable. Intensive shelling took place in Douma where UNRWA facilities remain closed due to the tense security situation. There were intermittent clashes in Husseiniyeh, Seyeda Zaynab, Khan Eshieh and Sbeineh. Access to Yarmouk camp remains restricted with security forces controlling the entrances to the camp. Clashes in the camp continue to extend to Palestine Street. Approximately 30 per cent of Yarmouk residents are believed to remain in the camp. Two refugees were reportedly kidnapped from neighbouring Hajar al-Aswad. There were reports of security operations conducted in Rukn Eddin where improvised explosive devices were detonated. UNRWA staff members continue to deliver services despite a high risk of exposure to violence. This week, an UNRWA bus transporting staff to work was shot at in the eastern part of Damascus, in what is believed to be a random shooting.

UNRWA remains gravely concerned over continued reports that armed opposition groups are restricting access to Nairab camp. The situation is worsening in Aleppo where there have been lengthy disruptions of water and electricity services. There were reports that 70 refugees were temporarily detained early in the week and later released. Despite ongoing shelling and hostilities in the area of Aleppo, UNRWA facilities remain operational.

There were reports of intensive security operations that led to the temporary closure of UNRWA services and facilities. The majority of Jillien refugees have reportedly fled the village as armed opposition groups entered the area. UNRWA has received reports that the majority of Syrians from the Dera’a area have fled to Jordan while most Palestine refugees are sheltering in villages close to the border.

Hostilities continue in the area of Homs, particularly in Bab Amr. Three refugees, of which two are children, were injured from a shell that landed in the camp. There are reports that four refugees are missing and were last seen in the area where an UNRWA staff member traveled last week before being reported missing. UNRWA facilities continue to deliver services and humanitarian assistance.

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

The GAPAR representative who was reportedly detained last week was later released.  UNRWA facilities are operational.


Currently, there are over 33,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon. UNRWA provides education for approximately 3,000 Palestine refugee children from Syria in regular and special classes. In addition, UNRWA continues to provide Palestine refugees from Syria with medical care through its network of primary health centres. Medication and tertiary health care are also provided. Shelter accommodation remains the most pressing need amongst Palestine refugee families from Syria. UNRWA has responded through the provision of cash to help with shelter costs. The next cash distribution is scheduled for the first week of April. The sanitation in overcrowded camps remains of grave concern and UNRWA is working to improve the water and sanitation services for host communities and Palestine refugees from Syria currently sheltering in the camps. UNRWA recently sent a letter to Palestinian Popular Committees and committees of Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon explaining humanitarian services provided by UNRWA.


In Jordan, there are 4,856 Palestine refugees from Syria registered with UNRWA (1,143 families of which 29 per cent are female-headed households). There are 95 cases of disability known to UNRWA and in the coming weeks, more information will be gathered about their current living circumstances.   The illiteracy rate amongst the Palestine refugee population from Syria in Jordan is 22 per cent. The majority of Palestine refugees from Syria in Jordan comprises women and children (77 per cent).

Due to the circumstances of their flight and their legal and material vulnerability in Jordan, UNRWA has made a commitment to Palestine refugees from Syria to assist them, in particular to provide them with emergency assistance.   However, due to a shortage of funds, UNRWA has been unable to provide families with a second round of assistance, in some cases for as long as a year.   Currently, the Agency is seeking ways to address this challenge and to fulfill commitments to assist these vulnerable families.

Samah*: A Palestine Refugee Girl from Syria Desperately in Need of Humanitarian Support

Samah, a thirteen-year-old Palestinian Syrian girl, was living with her family in the Dera’a area of Syria. Due to violence where they lived, her family was forced to move to another area. They did not manage to escape the violence and about 9 months ago, Samah began to have fainting spells when bombs went off or shells exploded.  Subsequently, the muscles in one of her eyes began to weaken such that she was unable to open that eye.  She was examined by a doctor in Dera’a who said she would lose the sight in her eye if she did not have surgery. But that surgery was not available in southern Syria. Her family tried to cross into Jordan to seek medical treatment for her, but the Jordanian border authorities denied them entry because they are Palestinian. In desperation, Samah’s parents placed her in the care of a Syrian family who had agreed to assist her to cross into Jordan to seek medical assistance.  In Jordan, she joined the family of an aunt, who now hosts 24 family members in her home.   Samah has been hospitalized to receive the treatment she needs, but her extended family will have to bear the upfront cost of the surgery and be refunded by UNRWA afterwards. This places undue strain on family relations.  Samah needs both material and psychosocial support which UNRWA is endeavoring to find.  But challenges remain: Samah’s relatives have their own problems and are not able to assist her to get the support she needs, which puts her at further risk.  

* The girl’s name has been changed to protect her identity.


2013 Response Plan (January 2013 – June 2013):

  • The total pledged amount against the 2013 Response Plan is now at USD 32.6 million, equivalent to 35.7% of the total budget of the 2013 Response Plan required (USD 91.24 million). New contributions were recently received from DFID (in-kind) and private online donation
  • Out of the USD 32.6 million pledged funds, USD 23.9 million were received so far.
  • Another USD 20.1 million are under discussion with several donors

2012 Response Plan up to 31 December 2012:

  • Out of the USD 28.9m pledged funds USD 1.94 million remain outstanding (= outstanding installments of 2012 pledges).
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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