UNRWA Cash Assistance: A Lifeline for Palestine refugees in Syria

22 April 2021
Um Na’ela receives UNRWA cash assistance. ©2020 UNRWA Photo

The protracted conflict in Syria continues to negatively impact Palestine refugees living in the country, as many were displaced from their homes while others lost their jobs or sources of income. These ongoing deteriorating socio-economic conditions, continued displacement, and protection concerns constitute critical challenges that greatly affect daily life.

Further exacerbating these conditions are the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent assessment conducted by UNRWA on the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on Palestine refugees indicates that many are facing securing basic food needs for their households. Seventy-nine per cent of Palestine refugee respondents mentioned that their families had reduced the number of meals or quantity of food consumed since 15 March 2020.

In light of these challenges, UNRWA has deployed a number of emergency interventions to respond to their humanitarian needs. Thanks to generous contributions from donors, including the European Union the Agency’s key emergency interventions have included provision of cash assistance to refugee families, enabling them to secure their basic needs.

Among those benefiting from UNRWA cash assistance is 45-year-old Um Na’ela, a mother of three children, whose husband died of a stroke. As a female head of her household, she is part of the most vulnerable categories of refugees as identified by an UNRWA vulnerability assessment. After living under siege for seven years, she left Yarmouk and settled in neighboring Babilla with her daughters and grandson, who lost his father to the conflict.

Like other children, Um Na’ela’s daughters dream of wearing new clothes, especially during the winter season. However, their harsh living conditions do not allow such purchases.  Bitterness and hardship have become their companions to cope with the daunting current challenges in life.

Um Na’ela suffers from extremely precarious living conditions and lives with her family in a damaged house as she struggles to make ends meet. “My priority when I receive the cash assistance is to buy food, milk, diapers for my grandson and firewood to provide warmth in the house,” she explains.


The European Union with its Member States is a leading global donor of humanitarian aid. The EU helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people solely on the basis of humanitarian needs without discrimination of race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation.