Syria humanitarian response (Issue 16)

02 November 2012

2 November 2012
Damascus, Syria

situational overview

The humanitarian situation in Syria has remained grave over the last week, with a significant intensification of armed conflict in Aleppo and Damascus/Rif Damascus. Based on current assessments, UNRWA estimates that 225,000 Palestine refugees in Syria are directly affected by the ongoing conflict. Currently, there are 1,622 registered Palestine refugees who have fled Syria for Jordan. The number of Palestine refugees from Syria that have approached UNRWA in Lebanon is estimated to be approximately 8,000 individuals (1,860 households).

UNRWA has received requests for cash assistance from 59,000 households in Syria, with projections that the current rate of requests will mean that the Agency will receive 100,000 applications for cash assistance by the end of the year. UNRWA anticipates that its currently-available resources for cash assistance will be exhausted by January 2013. The rate at which requests for assistance are being presented suggests that the population in need has surpassed the planning figure on which UNRWA‘s Regional Syria Humanitarian Response Plan was based.


At a glance:

  • Despite the announcement of a ceasefire, there was a significant intensification of hostilities, particularly in the areas of Aleppo and northeastern Damascus/Rif Damascus. The situation remains precarious in the vicinity of Yarmouk and areas in southern Rif Damascus, which experienced armed conflict in the past week.

  • On 28 and 29 October 2012, credible reports indicate that 13 Palestine refugees were among casualties from the armed conflict in rural Damascus and in the suburbs of Damascus neighbouring Yarmouk. These casualties occurred in a context of elevated levels of tension and conflict-related violence in rural Damascus and in the suburbs surrounding Yarmouk during the Eid Al-Adha period.

  • In Dera‘a, a staff member was shot and slightly injured, while in separate incidents, shells hit and damaged an Agency health centre and school in the area.

  • Reports of staff members detained in Yarmouk and Latakia are being investigated.

  • An Agency vehicle was damaged in Aleppo, while three were carjacked in separate incidents in Damascus/Rif Damascus. In two of the cases, staff members and vehicles were released the same day; however, the third vehicle remains missing.

Increased exposure to violence and displacement throughout Syria are compounding the humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees. Food remains a critical priority for all, and non-food items included in UNRWA‘s response plan (in particular: mattresses, hygiene kits, and cooking sets) are needed.

UNRWA is re-doubling preparations to support Palestine refugees during the forthcoming winter season. Conflict-impacted refugees are expected to face grave challenges during the winter season in Syria as many are no longer able to afford warm clothes, blankets, and quilts. Anticipated areas of concern include the limited availability of fuel for heating and the plight of refugees whose homes have been damaged or destroyed.

UNRWA seeks support from donors for projects involving the procurement of items to help refugees cope with the winter and the provision of cash allowing refugees to purchase warm clothes and household items.

Currently, there are 1,531 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in six UNRWA school buildings, marking a five-per-cent increase over the last two weeks. The displaced population residing in UNRWA school buildings is predominantly composed of women (approximately 36 per cent) and children (approximately 39 per cent).


Hostilities continued throughout northeastern Damascus/Rif Damascus, particularly in the areas of Harasta, Erbeen, Douma, and Zamalka. There has been intensified violence in the vicinity of Yarmouk and the adjacent area of Hajar al Aswad, with an increased security presence at the northern entrance of the camp. In Husseiniyah, there were reports of eight conflict-related deaths of Palestine refugees. On 29 October, four Palestine refugees were believed to have been killed by a shell while travelling in a mini-bus in Hajar al Aswad. This week, an UNRWA mechanic was reported missing and is feared to have been detained. On 1 November, UNRWA was able to deliver supplies to Sbeineh in preparation for upcoming distributions in the area. There were reports of shells impacting within the Qabr Essit Camp, causing the unconfirmed death of a refugee. Improvised explosive devices were reportedly used in West Mezzeh, Zahera, and Jaramana areas.

The majority of UNRWA facilities remain operational with the exception of Douma, Seta Zeinab, and Husseiniyah.

IDPs in two UNRWA school buildings in Damascus as of 25 October 2012











Khan Eshieh
















The humanitarian situation in Aleppo further deteriorated this week, particularly in the north, in areas of Achrafiyeh and Bustan al Qasr, and in the vicinity of Neirab camp. An UNRWA vehicle was damaged in the Assyrian neighbourhood and a mini-bus was reported missing. Roads to Latakia and Homs remain accessible but under high security risk. UNRWA facilities remain operational.

IDPs in four UNRWA school buildings in Aleppo as of 25 October 2012











Ein el Tal











This week, clashes took place throughout areas of Dera‘a, including the immediate vicinity of the camp and within Mzerieb village. On 30 October, an Agency staff member was injured by arms fire. A health centre was damaged during shelling earlier this week with no damage to equipment. In a separate incident, an Agency school close to the camp was damaged by shelling. UNRWA facilities remain operational.


Small arms fire continued throughout the week. UNRWA facilities remain operational.


There were reports of hostilities in rural areas of Latakia. UNRWA facilities remain operational.


Intermittent shelling continued throughout the week. The city centre and the road to Hama remain inaccessible, while the road to Damascus and Latakia is accessible. UNRWA facilities remain operational.


Currently, there are 1,622 Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria for Jordan, representing a four-per-cent increase since last week. Of this total number, there are 171 refugees sheltering in Cyber City. It is estimated that 77 per cent of Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Jordan comprise women and children. UNRWA remains concerned about the occurrence of refoulement of refugees and continues to liaise on such cases with the relevant authorities. UNRWA has confirmation of seven cases of refoulement, in which Palestinians were either forced back to Syria or prevented entry at the border, and has unconfirmed reports of others.


Currently, there are approximately 8,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have entered Lebanon. UNRWA is establishing a new database system aimed at improving the registration of Palestine refugees from Syria displaced in Lebanon. Activities are ongoing for UNRWA‘s alternative education project for Palestine refugee children from Syria, with plans underway to offer classes based on the Syrian curriculum in 2013.

current funding requirement

UNRWA is seeking USD 54 million through the 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. UNRWA is seeking USD 44 million for the six-month period from September 2012 to February 2013 to address pressing humanitarian needs. The Agency is also requesting over 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 17.567 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 government, the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), Switzerland, and private donors. UNRWA is continuing negotiations with several donors for support to Palestine refugees affected by the crisis.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

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