Syria crisis situation update (Issue 52)

08 July 2013
UNRWA Weekly Syria Crisis Report 1 July 2013
Conflict is increasingly encroaching on UNRWA camps with shelling and clashes continuing to take place near to and within a number of camps. A reported 11 Palestine Refugees (PR) were killed in Syria this week as a result, highlighting their unique vulnerability, with refugee camps often theatres of war. At least 44,000 PR homes have been damaged by conflict and over 50% of all registered PR are now displaced, either within Syria or to neighbouring countries.
Approximately 235,000 refugees are displaced in Syria with over 200,000 in Damascus, around 6600 in Aleppo, 3800 in Lattakia, 3000 in Hama, 6500 in Homs and 13,100 in Dera’a. 70,951 PR from Syria (PRS) have approached UNRWA for assistance in Lebanon (63,100) and Jordan (7851). UNRWA is tracking reports of PRS in Egypt, Turkey, Gaza and UNHCR reports up to 1000 fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. 
UNRWA is sheltering over 8005 Syrians in 19 Agency facilities. Of this 6804 (85%) are PR (see table 1). This follows a fairly constant trend since April ranging from 8005 to a high of 8400 in May. The number of IDPs in UNRWA facilities has not varied greatly since the beginning of the year with the lowest figure 7571 recorded in early January. A further 4222 PR are being sheltered in ten non-UNRWA facilities in Aleppo, Lattakia and Damascus. In addition, nearly 18,000 PR have been identified or approached UNRWA in different camps having fled from other areas in Syria:
  • 3004 in Hama Camp from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal;
  • 6420 in Homs Camp having fled Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside; and
  • 4318 in Lattakia camp having fled from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal.
The Agency continues to provide regular food, NFI and health assistance to registered and known PR if they have approached the Agency whether they are in UNRWA or non-UNRWA facilities.
13 Agency staff are currently unaccounted for, and 20 vehicles are still missing.  
  •  Armed opposition on an impromptu checkpoint at Khan Dannoun refugee camp, Damascus stopped an UNRWA driver and took his flak jacket, after initially demanding his UNRWA vehicle and helmet.
  •  An UNRWA staff member was detained by security forces outside Yarmouk camp and then released.
  • UNDSS suspended movement on roads from Damascus to Homs and Lebanon late week.  
  • UNRWA has so far distributed food, mattresses, blankets and a variety of other essential non-food items to 115,809 individuals (30,896 families) in 2013. In the last week the Agency distributed 2559 family food parcels, 299 hygiene kits, 516 packs of sanitary towels, 9 kitchen sets and 2396 packs of baby diapers to displaced and vulnerable PR across Syria.
  • UNRWA opened a new distribution centre in Zahera area of Damascus to provide food parcels and cash assistance to PR displaced from Yarmouk refugee camp amid intensive hostilities that continue in other areas of the city.
Humanitarian Response
Summer educational and recreational activities are being conducted for PR and PRS students at UNRWA schools in Syria and Lebanon. The activities started at end of June and will continue until the new school year in September, except during Ramadan. Over 4000 PR children in Syria and 4000 in Lebanon are being targeted with a focus on PR children who have been out of school during the school year and those with learning problems. Recreation activities will provide the children with psycho-social support through drawing, sports, games, excursions and open days including culture and the arts to combat the negative psychosocial effects of the conflict on the children which is affecting their abilities to learn. To this end UNRWAs Education in Emergencies (EIE) team is also currently in the process of training 51 psychosocial counselors to work in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan with PR children in UNRWAs schools.
UNRWA opened a new distribution centre in Zahera area of Damascus to provide food parcels and cash assistance to PR displaced from Yarmouk refugee camp.
UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria cumulative as of 27 June 2013
UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 27 June 2013
Security summary
Damascus / Rif Damascus: There were reports of an IED (allegedly SVIED) detonating in the area of Bab Sharki Thursday afternoon reportedly killing and injuring a number of bystanders albeit not PR. A mortar impacted in the adjacent area of Bab Touma around the same time and another in Al Tejarah on Saturday evening. However, the number and impact of IEDs decreased from the previous week.
Clashes and shelling continued in many areas of the city, including Jobar, Douma, Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Husseiniyeh, Qaboun, Sit Zeinab and Khan Eshieh. Limited facilities are available in the camps due to the nature of the conflict and accessibility of UNRWA staff. The number of refugees reportedly killed in the areas rose slightly to 5. Sbeineh Camp remains cut off by security forces, with opposition groups reportedly still in the area. Less than 5% of residents remain and no UNRWA staff. Intermittent shelling in Khan Dannoun Camp killed two PR children early in the week and armed opposition elements took the flak jacket of an UNRWA driver over the weekend. Security forces continue to control access to Sit Zeinab camp which is 30% full with around 50% of the original population in neighbouring areas waiting to return. Three refugees were reportedly killed in the immediate vicinity of the camp over the weekend, allegedly by snipers and a number of shells landed in Husseiniyeh camp.
Sporadic clashes were reported in areas in and around Yarmouk refugee camp early week where less than 30% of camp residents remain (approximately 20,000 PR). Clashes and shelling intensified later in the week and weekend with a number of shells impacting into the camp. At least three PR were killed and one detained by the security forces then released the same day. All three health centres in Yarmouk have been unable to operate since January 2013 and all facilities remain closed. Many refugees in the area are extremely vulnerable and have limited or no flight options outside the camp. Armed opposition groups are reportedly still present in the camp and security forces restrict access heavily with the camp reportedly blocked completely over the weekend. The violence was less than last week with no IEDs.
Aleppo: Intensive hostilities with clashes and shelling continued in many areas until Wednesday when hostilities subsided and sporadic clashes were reported in the Old City, Bani Zayd and Shekh Masoud. Intensive shelling was reported on Saturday around Karm Qatrj and intermittent hostilities in some areas. The office was operational throughout the week. Ein el Tal remains empty of refugees except a small number that visit to retrieve belongings and armed opposition groups continue to control the area.  Neirab Camp and surrounding areas remained relatively calm. The camp remains accessible and all facilities are operational, providing shelter to 121 Syrian IDPs in three schools.
Dera’a: The town was relatively calm at the start of the week but the Syrian Army heavily deployed in Al Mahatah at the end of the week where the Area Office is located. The office remained closed with essential operations continuing from alternative locations in and around the camp. Sporadic shelling increased from mid-week with some shells impacting in the camp without casualties. Communications were difficult late week, intensive clashes reported at the weekend with ongoing heavy military deployments. Shelling continued around Mzerieb with the health centre closed one day. Shelling was reported around Jillien where themain road remains blocked but refugees can access the village via a side road. This situation is a slight improvement on last week. The border to Jordan is technically open but still inaccessible due to insecurity along the route.
Homs: Intermittent shelling reported in and around the town all week but the camp remained relatively calm with all facilities operational. Intensive shelling reported Saturday in Al Khaldyeh and Bab Saba and cut communications amid reports/rumors of a renewed government offensive in the area. As a result, UNDSS suspended UNCT operations in the city for the time being, including missions to and from Homs. The situation was a slight improvement on last week with no airstrikes in the town.
Hama and Lattakia: Both towns and camps were relatively calm throughout the week with all facilities in both camps operational, showing a slight improvement from last week.
63,100 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) have approached UNRWA for assistance in Lebanon, equivalent to around 18,300 families. They are located in Saida (31%), Beqaa (21%), the Beirut area (17%), Tyre (17%) and the north (14%). There was a sharp increase in the number of PRS crossing into Lebanon early week, with an average of 160 crossing every day and most coming from Yarmouk and other areas of Damascus.
UNRWAs Lebanon Field Office (LFO) completed the most recent cash distribution round and is starting to plan the next round which may be in September utilizing alternative modes of distribution if required and feasible.
1922 PRS families (7851 individuals) are recorded by UNRWA in Jordan, 30% (576) of which are female-headed families. 197 Palestinians reside in Cyber City, the government appointed facility in Irbid, and the others are living in areas indicated in the graph.
Education: Students are out of school for the summer. 
Health: From 1 January to mid-June, PRS made 5,331 health care visits to UNRWA clinics and government hospitals.
Relief: From 1 January to mid-June, 1317 PRS families (72% of families registered with UNRWA) received emergency assistance.
Protection: UNRWA continues to work closely with the Government of Jordan to address a range of protection concerns for PRSs.  
Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 27 June:

Damascus Training Centre
Damascus (Jaramana Camp)
Damascus (Mezzeh)
Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)
Damascus (Ramadan Camp)
Damascus (Dummar)
Damascus (Rukn Eddin)
Damascus (Khan Dannoun Camp)
Please note: information in this report comes from a range of sources including open-source material. It may therefore be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. It is focused on UNRWAs areas of operation so may not reflect the overall situation in Syria and/ or areas where UNRWA is not active. Some information may be sensitive so you are requested to treat it with discretion and confidentiality.
2013 Response Plan (January 2013 – June 2013):
Our total needs for 2013 are now of USD 290.8 million. As of today, we have received USD 82.9 million equivalent to 28.5% of the required funds until Dec 2013.
Another US$ 12.3 million are currently under discussion with several donors.
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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