Syria Crisis Situation Update (Issue 55)

23 July 2013
Weekly Syria Crisis Report, 22 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 8 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, 4500 in Latakia, 3050 in Hama, 6400 in Homs and 13,100 in Dera’a. 85,000 PR from Syria (PRS) have approached UNRWA for assistance in Lebanon and 8057 in Jordan. UNRWA tracks reports of PRS in Egypt, Turkey, Gaza and UNHCR reports up to 1000 fled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. 
1.    Situation summary
·         14 July Humanitarian Convoy arrived in Aleppo with a four month of supply of medicines, hygiene equipment and essential supplies for Palestine refugees.  
·         Despite the considerable challenges UNRWA is continuing to deliver emergency relief, health and education services to PR across Syria.
·         A reported 8 PR were killed: 6 in Yarmouk camp as a result of shelling and clashes, 1 in Dera’a camp and 1 in Sit Zeynab as a result of shelling. Staff member detained in central Syria and one released in northern Syria after being kidnapped early July.
·         Area and Field Offices in Damascus operational all week with most staff attending.
·         7 UNRWA staff members have been killed in the conflict and 15 UNRWA staff are currently being detained or have been reported missing. 20 vehicles stolen and still not accounted for.
As of 14 July 2013 UNRWA is sheltering over 8500 (+183) Syrians in 19 Agency facilities. Of this 7055 (+69) 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 4389 (+95) PR are being sheltered in 10 non-UNRWA facilities in Aleppo, Latakia and Damascus. Nearly 18,000 PR have also been identified or approached UNRWA in different camps having fled from other areas in Syria including:
·         3004 in Hama Camp from Yarmouk and Ein El Tal;
·         6420 in Homs Camp having fled Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside; and
·         4318 in Latakia 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.
2.    Humanitarian Response
·         Around 26,000 out of 67,000 PR students are being reached. 21 out of 118 UNRWA schools are operational for summer education classes;
·         Self-learning materials developed for students out not able to attend school;
·         Psycho-social support courses for 75 staff. 35 psycho-social counselors being recruited;
UNRWA Deputy Commissioner General and Chief of Education, Syria take part in Summer Learning activities with displaced Palestine Refugee children in Damascus
Summer education classes ongoing for grades 1-8 with 6300 PR students currently undertaking additional learning and catch-up classes;
·         UNRWA students’ results just issued in the 9th grade state exam were around 80%.
·         Vocational short courses being prepared for Aleppo and Damascus in a range of fields with such courses ongoing in Dera’a, Hama, Homs and Latakia. Youth engagement activities being extended.
·         Health centres: a number of access challenges. Five health centres fully operational and one partially in Damascus area;  and in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo.
·         Health points: 6 providing support in areas of high concentration of IDPs in Damascus and Aleppo.
·         Medical supplies: stock received for next 12 months of which 4 months distributed to each area.
·         The humanitarian convoy arrived on 14 July in Aleppo with a four month supply of medicines for Palestine refugees there. The supplies delivered included milk and baby milk, ladies sanitary towels, hygiene kits, laundry equipment and detergent, wheelchairs and medical supplies.
·         Hospitalisation: started reimbursements of non-contracted hospital bills and arranged for all PR in Syria to access health centres anywhere;
·         Surveillance of infectious diseases: No outbreaks reported, vaccination working well, ongoing close cooperation with WHO and PRC; and
·         An increase in rates of psycho-social trauma, stress/anxiety disorders reported.
·         Cash assistance: 2nd round distribution ongoing targeting 420,000 persons with USD42 per person. Until end June 88,764 applications were received for the cash assistance and so far in July over 115,000 applications have been received. 18,425 families already received the cash assistance in the second round as of 13 July and a plan prepared for July to distribute to 60,380 families (275,600) individuals thought 5 distribution pay points.
Training for field staff in delivering cash assistance and preparations for cash distribution in Aleppo.
Agreement signed with new bank in Syria to add another pay point and negotiations under way with banks and companies to speed up the distribution process. Attempting to carry out distributions through multiple mechanisms to improve efficiency and reduce risks to beneficiaries and staff;
·         Food distributions: Dera’a (3000 persons) and Damascus/Rif Damascus (22000 persons); food basket distribution in 3 locations in Damascus/ Rif Damascus with additional 3 distribution points being prepared to open in the next weeks; Assessment of local food procurement in Aleppo; Plans for a weekly food dispatch to Dera’a to cover PR requirements there.
·         IDPs: Continuing to provide 2 meals per day (one cooked) to over 12,800 IDPs in 28 UNRWA schools and collective shelters in Damascus, Aleppo, Hama and Latakia; ongoing WATSAN and living conditions upgrades for the shelters;
·         NFI distributions: 13,665 persons have been supported with distribution of NFIs including mattresses, blankets and a variety of other essential non-food items with over 76,500 blankets, 48,500 mattresses and 6163 hygiene kits distributed so far. 
Continuing work with Iraqi PR in Syria including regular counselling and visits in cooperation with UNHCR and their local partners, funded by US Government.
 UNRWA food and cash distributions in Syria in 2013 cumulative since March 2011 as of 9 July 2013
UNRWA distributions in Syria in 2013 by location and type as of 9 July 2013
85,000 Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS) have approached UNRWA for assistance in Lebanon. They are located in Saida (26%), Beqaa (32%), the Beirut area and central Lebanon (17%), Tyre (14%) and the north (11%). 
Collective shelters: UNRWA has assisted with the rehabilitation of 11 collective shelters providing housing to 88 families; 4 shelters in Saida, 6 in Tyre and one in Central Lebanon. 7 other requests are under assessment.
Environmental Health: UNRWA has recruited more sanitation workers and increased support for water networks in coordination with Popular Committees across the camps.
Palestine Refugee children from Syria taking part in UNRWA summer learning in Lebanon
Education: Summer learning classes ongoing for PRS who have been out of school during the school year, scheduled to run until September. Emergency education programme for PRS ongoing including recruitment of 14 psychosocial counselors.
Health: Continue to deliver medical consultations and medications through UNRWAs 28 health centres. Health awareness sessions conducted during the PRS cash distribution in June and staff attended a health training workshop.
Protection: Monitoring and reporting officer stationed at border crossing to offer advice to PRS when they cross and report on concerns and flow of PRS. Continue to advocate with Lebanese Government for equal treatment of all refugees at the border
Relief: Catch up distribution for newly arrived PRS carried out on 2 July to 1160 families. UNRWA will support Terres des Hommes and its partner Nabaa to identify and distribute NFI and cash assistance to newly arrived PRS families in NLA, Saida and Tyre.
No new Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS) were recorded in Jordan this week and the number remains at 8,057 individuals (1,976 households), 30% (583 households) of which are female headed and all receive assistance from UNRWA. The number of new PRS from Syria recorded in Jordan has averaged approximately 750 per month over the past six months but there has been a downward trend since the last peak in intakes in April with only 514 new recorded PRS in June. PRS usually approach UNRWA offices to receive assistance after a few months in Jordan when their resources are depleted.
The vast majority of PRS live in poverty and their most critical self-declared needs are for relief, shelter, food and health services. Most reside in communities with host families or in rented premises mainly in Irbid, Zarqa and Amman. 198 PRS reside in Cyber City, the government appointed facility in Irbid.
Education: 22% of PRS school age population (651 students) were enrolled in UNRWA schools in Jordan during the last school year; 1000+ were reportedly enrolled in other types of schools particularly government schools; and UNRWA estimates around 40% are out of school. UNRWA expects the number of PRS enrolled in UNRWA schools will almost double by the end of 2013 to 1200. UNRWA will increase outreach to the PRS community to encourage caregivers to enroll the children in schools. It will also identify and address barriers to access, work to prevent drop-outs, support educational achievements and offer non-formal or alternative education options for those that need it.  
Health: From January-end June UNRWA supported 7529 PRS visits to primary care including UNRWA clinics, and until mid-July 159 visits to government hospitals for secondary and tertiary health care. UNRWA continues to provide 100% coverage except for treatments with prohibitive cost and for which private donations are required. In Cyber City, UNRWA continues to provide dental services through a mobile dental clinic and expanded its support to the on-site JHAS clinic to cover the costs of four out of six days of duty, with UNHCR covering the remaining two days. 
Relief: UNRWA has given virtually all PRS households (1,842) at least one installment of emergency assistance as well as food assistance. 415 households (corrected from last week) have received a second installment and transfers for another 334 families are being processed. UNRWA is reviewing the amounts, timing and method for future transfers to accommodate a growing caseload and as part of an agency-wide effort to harmonise practices across fields which includes looking into ATM transfers. To inform this, UNRWAs Jordan Field Office (JFO) has started planning a needs assessment to update poverty/ needs data, identify gaps and evaluate past work. It has also introduced targeted relief for extremely vulnerable families who cannot cover basic needs or who suffer from a traumatic event such as the loss of a caregiver or a serious illness, subject to needs assessments.
Protection: UNRWA continues to work closely with the Government of Jordan to address a range of protection concerns for PRS. 
For further information on activities see the following reports:
3.    Security summary
Damascus / Rif Damascus: Relative lull in hostilities throughout the week but intensive clashes and shelling in some areas over the weekend including camps. Sporadic clashes and shelling continued in many areas including areas around the camps in Sbeineh, Sit Zeynab, Husseiniyeh, Douma, Ramadan, Yarmouk and Khan Eshieh. Particularly intensive clashes and shelling in Yarmouk over the weekend and continuing intermittent clashes and shelling all week in and around Jobar, Qaboun and Barzeh. 
Some shells impacted the camps, notably Yarmouk killing 6 PR along with weekend clashes, and Sit Zeynab. 1 UNRWA staff member was detained in central Syria over the weekend and one released in northern Syria after being kidnapped early July. Limited facilities are available in some camps due to the nature of the conflict and accessibility of UNRWA staff.
Sporadic clashes and shelling in areas around Yarmouk refugee camp throughout the week. This increased during the weekend and became intensive in surrounding areas and a number of areas in the camp killing at least 4 PR with internet and communications down. Security forces heavily restrict access to the camp, less than 30% of camp residents remain (approx. 20,000 PR), all health centres unable to operate since January 2013 and facilities remain closed. Many PR there are extremely vulnerable and have limited or no flight options outside the camp. Armed opposition groups remain in the camp.
Aleppo: Intermittent shelling and clashes all week a reduction from the previous week. The office was operational throughout the week. Ein El Tal continues to remain empty of refugees as armed opposition groups continue to control the area. Neirab Camp and surrounding areas remained relatively calm as in the previous week. The camp remains accessible and all facilities are operational, providing shelter in three schools. However, some camp residents protested outside UNRWAs office late week due to a perceived lack of financial assistance, highlighting the grave plight of many PR displaced in Syria, for who UNRWA is their only point of assistance.
Dera’a: Intermittent clashes and shelling early week with several shells impacting in the camp resulting in the death of 1 PR. This subsided into sporadic shelling and clashes mid-week and into the weekend. Apart from shelling early week the camp remained relatively calm with all facilities operational. Sporadic shelling in areas near Mzerieb early week and over the weekend with some shells impacting the village but no casualties. Otherwise the camp remained relatively calm with all facilities operational. Jillien remainedrelatively calm most of the week but the main road is apparently blocked again. The border to Jordan is now reportedly open but with sporadic hostilities in the area and along the route.  
Homs: Hostilities in Homs continued to subside from the previous week. Intermittent shelling in the city early week subsided mid-week but late week a number of shells impacted in the camp and a mortar over the weekend, causing damage to shelters but no injuries. Hama and Latakia towns and camps remained relatively calm throughout the week with all facilities in both camps operational, showing no change from the previous week.  Most roads remained open.
Lebanon & Jordan
Table 1: Number of PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities as of 23 July:

Damascus Training Centre
357 (+19)
395 (+19)
625 (+49)
1377 (+87)
Damascus (Jaramana Camp)
Damascus (Mezzeh)
Damascus (Khan Eshieh Camp)
Damascus (Ramadan Camp)
Damascus (Dummar)
115 (+14)
139 (+3)
275 (+6)
529 (+13)  
Damascus (Rukn Eddin)
183 (+10)
146 (+4)
287 (+17)
616 (+31)
Damascus (Khan Dunoun Camp)
419 (+12)
403 (+9)
791 (+28)
1613 (+49)
Damascus (Al Qaboun)
13 (+1)
29 (+2)
49 (+3)
2256 (+46)
2254 (+35)
3990 (+102)
8500 (+183)
Overall 183 more IDPs were recorded in UNRWA facilities last week, a slight increase from 157 the previous week. 56% of these were children. Most camps (58%) saw no increase in IDP numbers and only Khan Dunoun, Hama had Rukn Eddin had an increase two weeks in a row, the latter two by a small amount. The largest increase was in the Damascus Training Centre with an overall increase of 87 individuals including 49 children. The next largest increase was in Khan Dunoun.

UNRWA condemns the death of staff member in Syria

 As reported last week, UNRWA Staff Member Muhannad Ashmawi was killed as the result of shelling in Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Damascus. Mr Ashmawi was born 18 July, 1974 and joined UNRWA in 2007 as a school attendant and he served in two UNRWA schools in Yarmouk. On 9 July, Mr. Ashmawi sustained serious head injuries when a shell exploded at the southern end of Palestine Street in Yarmouk. As the ongoing conflict prevents the functioning of hospitals or clinics in Yarmouk Mr Ashmawi was taken to a hospital in central Damascus. Unfortunately he died of his injuries on 14 July. UNRWA sends its deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr Ashmawi.
Muhannad Ashmawi is the seventh UNRWA staff member to be killed as a result of the Syria conflict. His tragic death occurs against the backdrop of intensifying armed conflict in Yarmouk and other Palestine refugee camps and neighbourhoods across Syria. This is aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation, causing new waves of significant, recurrent displacement and raising the toll of deaths and serious injuries among Palestinians and Syrians.
In Damascus Governorate, armed hostilities are frequently occurring in Yarmouk, Qabr Essit, Sbeineh and Husseiniyah camps with the loss of several Palestine refugee lives in recent weeks. In Dera’a, intense clashes and shelling continue in the vicinity of Dera’a refugee camp, while fierce hostilities in Homs have resulted in a number of shells and stray bullets impacting the Palestine refugee camp.
UNRWA condemns the persistent failure of all sides to protect civilians and safeguard human life in Syria. Violations of international humanitarian law are causing civilian deaths, injuries and displacement, including among the Palestine refugee community in Syria. Armed opposition groups and other parties to the conflict must desist from taking up positions or conducting the conflict in Palestine refugee camps and other civilian areas.
UNRWA deplores the immeasurable, needless human suffering that continues to affect communities across Syria. This is due to insistence on attempting to resolve the Syria conflict militarily. In the strongest terms, UNRWA reiterates its appeal to all concerned parties to end the suffering, comply with their obligations under international law and resolve the conflict in Syria through mediated dialogue and negotiations.