UNRWA Syria crisis situation update (Issue 33)

10 February 2013

Syria situation update
8 February 2013

situational overview

The situation in Syria has further deteriorated this week, as unabated violence has lead to a rising death toll, significant displacement and immense suffering for Syrians and Palestine refugees. The escalation in violence since the launch of UNRWA‘s Syria Crisis Response 2013 has led to an increase in the number of Palestine refugees in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance, which is estimated to have reached over 400,000 individuals. Approximately 20,000 Palestine refugees have sought safety in Lebanon and an estimated 3,622 Palestine refugees from Syria have fled to Jordan.


At a glance:

  • Conflict continues throughout most of the country, claiming the lives of at least eighteen Palestine refugees, including a staff member‘s brother in Sbeineh during the last week;
  • A total of four staff were detained during the reporting period, three allegedly by armed opposition groups in the vicinity of Neirab, Yarmouk and Khan Eshieh camps, and one allegedly by security forces in Sit Zeinab. Two were later released but the other two, one from Aleppo and one from Neirab, remain in detention;
  • Three staff members sustained serious injuries when a generator exploded in Neirab camp. Two of them subsequently died, while the third remains in hospital in critical condition. The incident is considered to be accidental and is not related to the conflict;
  • In Damascus, hostilities continued in the immediate vicinity and within a number of camps, namely Yarmouk, Sbeineh, Sit Zeinab and Husseinieh;
  • Hostilities also intensified to the southwest of the city, around Khan Eshieh camp. Several schools were damaged and burglarised;
  • Hostilities throughout Eastern Rif Damascus Governorate intensified this week, forcing UNRWA to suspend most of its activities in the area due to insecurity and lack of access;
  • Dera‘a and the immediate vicinity of the camp is the scene of regular clashes, shelling, and kidnapping;
  • On a more positive note, a retired area staff member that had previously been detained in Damascus was released this week.

UNRWA maintains its operations in Syria despite the grave security situation and limited access to areas of armed conflict. Since the start of the conflict, UNRWA‘s network of over 3,600 staff has provided 28,652 refugee households with food parcels, 10,343 mattresses, 19,682 blankets, and cash assistance for 54,040 families throughout Syria. In some areas of highly restricted humanitarian access such as Aleppo, Dera‘a, and Rif Damascus Governorate, the Agency has provided life-saving emergency health care, cash assistance, food and winter items to protect against exposure to the cold.

Currently, there are 8,641 IDPs sheltering in UNRWA facilities in Syria, of which 44 per cent are children. The IDPs are unable to afford alternative shelter and are dependent on humanitarian aid for their basic needs. Amongst the population of IDPs in UNRWA facilities, highly vulnerable groups include 83 pregnant women, 15 of whom are in their ninth month of pregnancy, and 54 newborn babies. Other Palestine refugees who may not have the means to flee areas of civil strife are extremely vulnerable to high risks of exposure to violence, cold and the impossibility of surviving without humanitarian assistance.

IDPs in four UNRWA facilities as of 5 February*:






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 2,600 refugees who have made themselves known to UNRWA in Homs Camp, having fled from Aleppo, Damascus and Homs countryside. In addition, 1,300 refugees have made themselves known to UNRWA in Latakia, having fled from Yarmouk and Ein el Tal. 3,768 Palestine refugees have been located at 10 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. (Total: 8,800).

Damascus/Rif Damascus

The situation in Yarmouk camp continues to remain unpredictable with only 30 per cent of refugees remaining due to ongoing violence and clashes, particularly at the northern entrance of the camp where at least three refugees were recently reportedly shot and injured. This week, at least eight refugees were killed in Yarmouk. Sbeineh, Husseiniyeh, and Sayeda Zaynab continue to be areas of armed conflict whereby most residents have fled to safer grounds and UNRWA or government facilities for shelter. There is an increased number of camps such as Yarmouk where security forces control access to the camp. There are also reports of increased criminal activity in camps, particularly in Khan Eshieh camp where kidnapping has increased.


Shelling continues in the area, particularly in the neighbourhood of Bab Amr. There has been a slight improvement in electricity services this week despite continued intensive shelling of the city and immediate vicinity. UNRWA conducted an assessment in the area this week and facilities are operational.


The town and immediate vicinity has been calm this week. UNRWA continues its operations in the area.


The situation remains calm and UNRWA facilities are operational.


Violence continues throughout Aleppo and access is restricted to Ein el Tal and Neirab camps where security forces control access to the camp. Two staff members lost their lives this week due to a generator accident in Neirab. A third staff member remains in critical condition due to the incident that is not related to the conflict. There are reports that armed opposition elements have taken up positions around Al Hol camp for Iraqi-Palestine refugees in northeast Syria, administered by UNHCR. Security forces are reportedly targeting these groups, including aerial attacks and shelling. Efforts are underway to relocate the remaining 44 refugee families from Al-Hol.


There have been reports of shelling and clashes in the southern part of the city this week and the kidnapping of the GAPAR representative allegedly carried out by an armed group. The representative was later released. Despite the deteriorating security situation in Dera‘a, UNRWA conducted a monitoring visit this week and was able to support the distribution of 2,464 blankets and 439 food parcels.


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. Next week, UNRWA plans to conduct its next round of cash assistance for clothing and to help with rent. The distribution will provide 130 USD to vulnerable Palestine refugee families from Syria who cannot afford basic shelter and clothing. Many of these families have been depending on host communities for assistance. UNRWA continues to support the education needs of 2,200 Palestine refugee children from Syria who are continuing their studies at UNRWA‘s schools in Lebanon.


Currently, there are 3,622 Palestine refugees who have fled from Syria (PRS) registered with UNRWA in Jordan, of which the majority is comprised by women and children. Of this total, there are 223 individuals in Cyber City north of Amman.

Registrations in Jordan per month (June 2012 to Jan 2013)

Palestine refugees in Jordan are unable to meet their basic needs, so UNRWA is providing food assistance, health care and education services. All registered PRS receive SNN assistance (food assistance). In January, 431 PRS received medical assistance at UNRWA health clinics. There are currently 419 children in school.


SNN Assistance



North Amman


South Amman






UNRWA in Jordan faces a number of challenges in responding to the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees coming from Syria, including:

  • Expected increasing numbers and vulnerabilities as the emergency becomes protracted;
  • UNRWA agency-wide deficit limiting the ability to launch an internally-funded response;
  • Difficult economic times globally, and in Jordan particularly, having a negative impact on Government resources and creating extra difficulties for citizens and refugees alike;
  • The sensitivity of the Palestinian issue continues to be highly politically sensitive in Jordan, causing increasing protection concerns, including refoulement, and the potential for ongoing failure to provide this highly vulnerable population with safe haven.

current funding requirement

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 26.23 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 and Zaragoza regional Spanish governments, 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 against UNRWA‘s previous Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan which appealed for USD 53.8 million until December 2012.

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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