Voices from Syria

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Entering its seventh year, the Syrian conflict has created over 4.8 million refugees and caused the displacement of an estimated 6.5 million within the country. During 2016, the conflict continued with brutal intensity while efforts to reach a political solution have failed so far.

Amid this unconscionable bloodshed and destruction, Palestine refugees are among the worst affected. Over 60 per cent of the 450,000 Palestine refugees inside Syria are displaced, while 28,900 are trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas like in Yarmouk and in the Governorate of Dera'a. Palestine refugees’ coping mechanisms have been all but exhausted.

In spite of extremely harsh and often dangerous conditions, UNRWA has continued to provide vital assistance and services to Palestine refugees in need. This has come at a cost; 17 Agency staff have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict and a further 26 Agency staff are missing or detained. 

SIX Years of War - SIX Stories

The Syria crisis has affected three generations of Palestine refugees. The first generation originally fled from northern Pal­estine in 1948 and subsequently others came from the Golan Heights in 1967 and from Lebanon at the height of the civil war in 1982. Once again, Palestine refugees find them­selves in the midst of horrifying conflict. Many of them have been displaced inside Syria, to Lebanon and Jordan, and further afield. They have had to leave everything behind. Struggling with the effects of the war, each person tries to find his or her way to cope on a daily basis. Read the personal stories of six brave and resilient Palestine refugees of all ages.

Ma’moun Mersal, 35 Years Old
Beqaa valley, Lebanon
Shrouq Kassab, 23 Years Old
Damascus Training Centre, Damascus
Ali Hussein
Khan Dunoun , Syria

Ma’moun Mersal, a Palestine refugee from Syria, managed to flee the conflict-ridden country three years ago. He travelled to Lebanon with his three kids, his wife and his mother. “We left Syria because of war, destruction, hunger and besiegement," he says. READ MORE

Being a fifth-year student in the Faculty of Medicine at Damascus, 23-year-old Shrouq Kassab is energetic and hardworking, hoping to become a surgeon one day. “I am now volunteering as a doctor in the Yalda district in Damascus once a month,” she explains. READ MORE

It is 8 a.m. in the Khan Dunoun UNRWA collective shelter, 23 km south of Damascus. The shelter is home to Palestine refugee families who have been displaced as a result of the brutal six-year-long conflict, which has torn Syria apart. It is winter and temperatures can drop below freezing. READ MORE

Alia Shehabi, 80 years old
Damascus, Syria
Abdallah al-Sahli, 77 years old
Damascus Training Centre, Damascus
Myasar Othman, 40 years old
Damascus Training Centre, Damascus

Eighty-year-old Palestine refugee Alia Shehabi moved in search of refuge with her family to the old city of Damascus when they left Palestine in 1948. A child of the Nakba, she grew up in Damascus, a city she loved. READ MORE

Every morning, when the weather is good Abdallah Mohammad al-Sahli sits in one of the benches in the sunny courtyard of the Damascus Training Centre collective shelter. He usually likes to walk around and enjoy the relative calm away from the crowded shelter.  READ MORE

Myasar Othman - a 40-year old mother of three - now lives in the Damascus Training Centre, located on the hillside southwest of Damascus and accommodating in its classrooms more than 180 Palestine refugee families displaced by the war. READ MORE

Dreaming of the Future

Listen to 'Dreaming of the Future', a song written and composed by UNRWA music teacher Imad Hutteini and performed by 13 UNRWA students in the Damascus Training Centre as the Syria conflict stretches into its seventh year.

Music provides emotional support, and it can be a source of healing for our students suffering trauma.– UNRWA Teacher and Music Composer Imad Hutteini


Approximately 500,000 Palestine refugees from Syria survive on humanitarian assistance. They deserve adequate shelter, quality education and access to health care. Ninety-five per cent of the refugees registered with UNRWA rely on its humanitarian assistance to survive. Emergency assistance comprises of food parcels, cash grants and non-food items targeting up to 430,000 Palestine refugees during each round. READ MORE

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