UNRWA Syria crisis situation update (Issue 32)

01 February 2013

1 February 2013

Regional overview

The escalation of violence in Syria continues to result in a rapidly rising death toll and significant displacement of Syrians and Palestine refugees.

Since the launch of UNRWA’s Syria Crisis Response Plan for 2013, it is estimated that the numbers of Palestine refugees in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance has reached 400,000; more than three quarters of the total population of Palestinians in Syria.

Approximately 20,000 Palestine refugees have sought safety in Lebanon. The armed conflict in Syria has also led to a large refugee flow to Jordan, bringing the number of registered Palestine refugees there to 3,448 individuals.


  • This week at least 13 refugees have died due to violence in Syria, including the spouse of a staff member in Dera‘a;
  • In Damascus, hostilities continue around a number of camps, namely Yarmouk, Sbeineh, SeitaZaynab and Husseiniyah;
  • Hostilities continue to the southwest of Damascus, around Darayya, and increasingly in the vicinity of Khan Sheikh. At least two UNRWA schools have been damaged in the area;
  • Three area staff members that had previously been reported as either detained or missing/presumed detained, were released this month. A total of eight area staff members remain in detention or are presumed missing.

Despite ongoing violence in Syria and limited humanitarian access to areas of civil unrest, UNRWA continues to deliver humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Palestine refugees.

Since the start of the conflict in March 2011, UNRWA’s network of over 3,600 area staff members has provided 28,652 refugee households with food parcels, 7,399 mattresses, 12,759 blankets, and cash assistance for 54,040 families. Vulnerable groups such as female-headed households, children and the elderly have been prioritized for assistance, particularly to protect them during the cold winter season.

It is estimated that over half of Palestine refugees in Syria have been displaced, many of whom have sought refuge with host families and in government or UNRWA facilities. Currently, there are 8,480 IDPs sheltering in UNRWA facilities in Syria where they are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. The poorest Palestine refugees who may not have the means to flee areas of civil
unrest are extremely vulnerable. 

IDP numbers in UNRWA facilities as of 30 January*






Damascus Training Centre





Damascus (Jaramana camp)





Damascus (Mezzeh)





Damascus (Khan Eshieh camp)





Damascus (Ramadan camp)





Damascus (Dummar)





Damascus (Rukn Eddin)





Damascus (Khan Dannoun Camp)























*3,736 Palestine refugees have been located at 11 non-UNRWA schools in Qudsaya, Khan Eshieh and Khan Dannoun. 1,200 Palestine refugees have been identified in Hama Camp, having come from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal. 2,600 refugees have made themselves known to UNRWA in Homs Camp, having fled from Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside. 1,300 refugees have made themselves known to UNRWA in Latakia, having fled from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal. (Total: 8,700)

Damascus / Rif Damascus


There is continued shelling and violence around the northern entrance of Yarmouk camp, the usual place of residence of over 150,000 Palestine refugees, and in neighbouring areas of Hajar al-Aswad.

Two refugees were injured due to shelling near the entrance of Yarmouk. Access to the camp remains restricted as armed groups control areas of Yarmouk and security forces are controlling the entrances. Commercial vehicles are not being permitted to enter Yarmouk, which leads to concerns over the access to supplies of the remaining 30 per cent of residents of Yarmouk who have not been able to flee the camp.

Camps such as Sbeineh, Khan Dannoun, Husseinyeh, and Seita Zainab continue to be areas where residents face high risks of exposure to violence. Two UNRWA schools in Husseiniyah were damaged due to shelling. The majority of Palestine refugees have fled the area with cases such as Seita Zainab where only 10 per cent of refugees remain in the camp. Those who are unable to leave the camps are amongst the most poor and vulnerable Palestine refugees. There are ongoing hostilities in Khan Sheikh camp with reports of 15 Palestine refugees being kidnapped including an imam.


There has been shelling in Homs during the week, including in the vicinity of the camp. UNRWA continues with cash distribution activities and assistance to additional IDP families who fled Khan Sheikh camp for Homs.


There has been no change in the situation in Hama with the exception of clashes along the road to Aleppo. UNRWA facilities are operational.


The situation is calm in Lattakia with UNRWA facilities operational. The main road to Hama is inaccessible, but a side road (via Salamiyye) remains open. Roads to Damascus and Lattakia are open only through Homs.


Intensive shelling continues in Aleppo, particularly in the areas of Bustan al Qasr, Achrafiyeh and Assyrian.Two refugees were reportedly killed during hostilities outside of Aleppo town. Three UNRWA staff members were injured when a generator accidently exploded in Neirab. There are reports of armed opposition elements restricting access to Neirab, allegedly due to friction between elements from within the camp. UNRWA facilities are operational.


Shells landed within the camp where it is estimated that only 30 per cent of refugees remain. The spouse of an UNRWA staff member was shot and killed in Dera’a camp. An alternative health centre has been established in Dera’a to facilitate safe access for beneficiaries and staff.


Violence in Syria has resulted in increasing numbers of Palestine refugees fleeing to Lebanon. Approximately 20,000 Palestine refugees from Syria are in Lebanon, the majority of whom have fled Yarmouk camp, and are entirely dependent on UNRWA for social, education and health services. UNRWA is focusing on cash to help with rent in an effort to alleviate the burden on displaced Palestine refugees from Syria and host families in Lebanon. A particular focus has been on protecting children whose education may be disrupted due to their displacement and trauma experienced in Syria. Currently, there are 2,200 Palestine refugee students from Syria who attend classes in Lebanon.

Jordan: Refugee from Syria fights rare disease in Cyber CityRefugee Faris in Cyber City

A Palestinian teenager from Syria is battling a rare disease while languishing with his family in Jordan. Faris, 17, is one of many Palestinians forcibly displaced from their homes in Syria to Cyber City, a rapidly-expanding area housing refugees from Syria in northern Jordan.

Before the onset of serious violence in Syria, Faris, who suffers from Hodgkin‘s Lymphoma, underwent a successful course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments there, and was en route to a full recovery. But the celebrations were cut short with the advent of the conflict. Read Faris‘ story

Funding Update

UNRWA is seeking USD 91.2 million through its Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria and to those who have fled across Syria‘s borders into neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan. The plan seeks USD 75.08 million for the six-month period from January 2013 to June 2013 to address pressing humanitarian needs in Syria, USD 13.29 million to support Palestine refugees who have fled to Lebanon, and USD 2.86 million for those seeking refuge in Jordan.

So far, USD 26.2 million have been pledged from the United States of America, the United Kingdom (DFID), Germany, Ireland, Hungary, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Emergency Response Fund (ERF), from the Valladolid regional Spanish government, and private donors. Of the pledged amount, USD 4.75 million has been received so far. UNRWA is continuing negotiations with several donors for support to Palestine refugees affected by the crisis.

USD 28.9 million were pledged and partially received against UNRWA’s previous response plan, which appealed for USD 53.8 million until December 2012.