Syria humanitarian response (Issue 22)

16 December 2012

Sunday 16 December
Damascus, Syria

situational overview

Intensive clashes have reportedly encroached on Yarmouk, Damascus from surrounding areas, resulting in large numbers of refugees becoming displaced and attempting to flee the area. Numerous casualties have been reported and the Agency is currently assessing reported damage to one of its schools by shelling. UNRWA installations in other parts of the city are prepared to receive displaced people this evening.

Yarmouk is home to approximately 160,000 Palestine refugees and is the largest concentration of Palestine refugees in Syria.

Situational overview

Palestine refugees continue to struggle with rising food, commodity and fuel prices, and increasing levels of displacement are compounding needs. Over 1,000 refugees from Ein el Tal camp in Aleppo fled to surrounding villages and Hama due to clashes in the immediate vicinity of the camp, and refugees living in Yarmouk, Damascus are currently attempting to flee the area due to intensive and sustained clashes in the area itself. UNRWA has prepositioned winter items in neighbouring locations to meet the most immediate needs of displaced Palestine refugees.

UNRWA‘s rapid-needs assessment was completed last week, indicating that of a total population of 525,000, approximately 360,000 individuals are unable to meet basic food needs and have requested assistance from UNRWA. Ninety-nine per cent of all refugees are in need of heating fuel and 90 per cent are in need of food assistance.

UNRWA has received requests for emergency cash assistance from over 89,000 families in Syria with projections that the current rate of requests suggests that applications for assistance may well approach 100,000 families by the end of the year. UNRWA anticipates that its available resources for cash assistance will be exhausted by January 2013.

Vulnerable conflict-affected Palestine refugees are in desperate need of assistance to meet their basic food, medical, and education needs. The winter season presents additional challenges, as Palestine refugees whose homes have been damaged are more vulnerable as they lack adequate shelter during the winter months. Blankets, quilts, heating fuel, and warm clothes are needed to protect them from exposure to the cold. There is also a need to rehabilitate UNRWA facilities that are being used as temporary shelter by displaced Palestine refugees, in particular UNRWA school facilities in Syria and Cyber City in Jordan.



  • Conflict continues to escalate throughout Syria, particularly in Damascus and Aleppo, and including the vicinity of Palestine refugee camps;
  • Intensive clashes in Yarmouk camp and adjacent areas causing displacement of Palestine refugees;
  • At least six refugees died and another six were injured due to clashes in Yarmouk, Rukn Eddin and Sbeineh camp;
  • 1,000 refugees flee Ein el Tal camp in Aleppo due to conflict in the immediate vicinity.

Palestine refugees and Syrians alike are desperately seeking ways to build their resilience against a rapidly deteriorating situation, particularly in the areas in Damascus/Rif Damascus and Aleppo. Despite high risks of exposure to violence, UNRWA‘s over-3,600 staff members throughout Syria are prioritising the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance such as emergency food and cash, household and winter items, and medical services.

Currently, there are 2,631 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in eight UNRWA school buildings, with the Agency preparing for increased numbers following the displacements of the past week. Approximately 76 per cent of the displaced population residing in UNRWA school buildings is made up of women and children.

Damascus/Rif Damascus

Intensive shelling and clashes continued throughout the week in Hajar al Aswad, Tadhamon, Yalda and Qadam, and on Wednesday clashes were reported again on the edge of Yarmouk.

Two refugees were reported killed in Sbeineh camp as a result of shelling, and one refugee was killed in Rukn Eddin by gunfire. Another refugee was killed in Rukn Eddin and two further deaths were reported in Yarmouk on Wednesday. Since then, conflict has further encroached upon Yarmouk, and reports of numerous casualties and displaced refugees are emerging.

Refugee camps are becoming increasingly inaccessible to Agency staff, and facilities in Husseiniyeh, Khan Dannoun and Qabr Essit camps have only remained operational due to staff living in the camps manning facilities there. The situation in some camps is getting worse, with shortages of basic food and non-food items, including mazout (cooking gas), water and electricity.

Shelling impacts were reported in Qabr Essit camp causing damage to an UNRWA school, but no casualties were reported.

UNRWA facilities are operational with the exception of Douma, Sit Zeinab, Sbeineh and Qaboun. The health centre in Husseiniyeh was operational but schools were not, and facilities in Khan Dannoun were only manned by staff living within the camp. A staff member kidnapped last week was released on Tuesday.

IDPs in two UNRWA school buildings in Damascus as of 06 December 2012











Khan Eshieh















* The IDPs in Ramadan have sought temporary shelter in private residences.


Intensive clashes and shelling continue in Aleppo, particularly in the areas of Leramon, Sakhur, Bustan al Qasr, Bustan al Bashar, Asha‘ar and the Old City. Large, if not most, areas of the city are still without regular electricity or water, and communication is still unreliable.

Shelling intensified around Ein el Tal camp towards the end of the week, leading to the displacement of 1,000 Palestine refugees and closure of UNRWA facilities. Most of the refugees have fled to Hama camp, where prepositioned supplies enabled UNRWA to meet their immediate winter needs.

All facilities were operational during the week, with the exception of schools in Ein el Tal from Wednesday.

IDPs in 6 UNRWA school buildings in Aleppo as of 6 December 2012











Ein el Tal











Clashes continued in the area of Dera‘a and shelling was reported close to the camp. All facilities were closed early in the week as a precautionary measure and closed early due to nearby clashes in the second half of the week. A shell landed in the immediate vicinity of the Dera’a health centre, but luckily it did not explode and was removed safely. Facilities in the surrounding villages of Mzerieb and Jillien remained open.


Shelling subsided during the week, but clashes continue and facilities within the camp closed early on several occasions as a precautionary measure. Electricity shortages are still severe, with as little as two hours a day reported in some areas. Water supplies returned in the second half of the week.


The situation in Hama remains calm, and UNRWA facilities remain operational. On Wednesday staff reported the arrival of approximately 1,000 Palestine refugees fleeing from clashes around Ein el Tal camp in Aleppo. Prepositioned winter items were provided to refugees, who are being accommodated in UNRWA facilities and by the local community.


The situation remains calm in Latakia and all UNRWA facilities are operational.


There are approximately 2,366 Palestine refugees (533 families) who have fled Syria into Jordan and sought assistance from UNRWA. Most of these families are located in Irbid, Cyber City camp, Zarqa and Amman. 260 families (1,197 individuals) are Social Safety Net cases and 138 families are female-headed households.

The Agency remains concerned about reported cases of refoulement of refugees attempting to cross into Jordan, and continues to liaise on such cases with the relevant authorities.


Currently, there are over 10,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Lebanon. Approximately 71 per cent of the refugees are women and children.

UNRWA is prioritising the winter needs of Palestine refugees from Syria who are in urgent need of heating fuel, warm clothes and blankets to protect them from exposure to the cold during the winter. The Agency distributed winterisation vouchers to approximately 400 families in the Beqaa area. Each voucher was worth USD 50 and could be used to purchase winter items such as clothes and boots at local stores. UNRWA has now distributed non-food items to 1,083 vulnerable Palestine refugee families.

Over 1,200 Palestine refugee children from Syria have enrolled in UNRWA schools. 900 are enrolled in special classes where they receive teaching and materials based on the Syrian curriculum. All children receive learning support to cope with psychosocial issues.

Funding needs

UNRWA is seeking USD 54 million through its revised Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria and those who have fled across Syria‘s borders into neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan. The focus of UNRWA‘s response plan is Syria. The plans seeks USD 44 million for the six-month period from September 2012 to February 2013 to address pressing humanitarian needs, USD 8 million to support Palestine refugees who have fled to Lebanon, and USD 1.5 million for those currently seeking refuge in Jordan.

So far, and since the launch of the previous regional response plan earlier this year, USD 21.38 million has been received from the United States, Italy, Sweden (Sida), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Emergency Response Fund (ERF), the Bizkaia regional Spanish government, the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), Switzerland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Norway, UNICEF, the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People and private donors. UNRWA is continuing negotiations with several donors for support to Palestine refugees affected by the crisis.