United Nations Geneva Palais Briefing: UNRWA response to Türkiye/Syria earthquake

07 February 2023
United Nations Geneva Palais Briefing: UNRWA response to Türkiye /Syria earthquake

Tamara Alrifai

Director, UNRWA Department of External Relations and Communications, Spokesperson

  • As an immediate ask: UNRWA requires US$ 2.7 million to support some 57,000 Palestine refugees affected by the earthquake in Syria, and in areas accessible from Damascus.
  • Some 438,000 Palestine refugees in twelve camps across Syria, excluding those who are not accessible from Damascus (accessible from Türkiye into northwest Syria).
  • Northern Syria is home to some 62,000 Palestine refugees living in and around the following four camps: Lattakia camp, Neirab camp, Ein-el Tal camp, and Hama camp. These camps are all accessible from Damascus.
  • UNRWA estimates that about 90 per cent of these families are in need as a result of the earthquake.
  • We have confirmed reports of six Palestine refugees who have perished- four from same family in Lattakia camp (mother/father/son/daughter) and two young girls from Nairab camp (ages 9 and 11) near Aleppo, who were UNRWA school students.
  • There are reports of fatalities amongst Palestine refugees in Türkiye and in northwest Syria- these have not yet been confirmed by UNRWA.
  • Death toll is expected to increase dramatically as search and rescue opreations advance.
  • Last night, some 700 Palestine refugees spent the night in UNRWA installations in Latakia, including schools. Worth noting that UNRWA schools often become shelters for those whose houses are destroyed or unsafe during emergencies (we saw this happen in Gaza several tiems for example).
  • Based on rapid assessments made by UNRWA teams since yesterday, it is most crucial to provide: medical supplies and non-food items (blankets, tarpaulins, mattresses and hygiene kits, including for women and girls).
  • We also know of three houses that collapsed yesterday in Latakia, home to five Palestine refugee families.
  • Essential medical supplies are available in UNRWA warehouses to l be distributed immediately to the affected Palestine refugees, however this stock will need to be replenished.
  • It is also important to put in place measures against gender-based violence (GBV) in crowded emergency areas. Our next priority will be to address the need to repair and/or rehabilitate for damaged UNRWA premises and for individual homes.  
  • In the aftermath of the destruction of the earthquake in Syria, an already vulnerable Palestine refugee population are in dire need of assistance and rely almost entirely on UNRWA.
  • There are undoubtably more Palestine refugees who are amongst the tragically affected in the northwest and who can only be accessed through Türkiye.