The conflict in Syria has intensified during 2015, leading to heightened humanitarian and protection needs among an increasingly vulnerable population. Affected communities continue to suffer serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law as a result of indiscriminate and widespread attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Increasing numbers of people have been forced to flee to other locations inside Syria, neighbouring countries or further afield. The Syrian economy remains in deep crisis, as a result of the repeated destruction of its infrastructure, institutions, and physical and human capital. The situation has been exacerbated by sharp price rises, escalating inflation and extremely high unemployment, with coping mechanisms stretched to the limit.
Palestine refugees remain particularly vulnerable and have been disproportionately affected by the conflict, due to their proximity to conflict areas inside Syria, high rates of poverty and the tenuous legal status of those forced to flee to Lebanon and Jordan. An estimated 450,000 of the 560,000 refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria remain inside the country; over two thirds (280,000 people) are internally displaced and an estimated 95 per cent (430,000) are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance. This includes tens of thousands of Palestinians who are trapped in areas of active conflict, such as Yarmouk or Khan Eshieh in Damascus or Muzeirib and Jillin in Dera'a, with extremely constrained access to humanitarian assistance.
Of those who have been forced again into exile, around 42,000 have fled to Lebanon and more than 17,000 to Jordan. The vast majority are living a precarious, marginalized existence, unable to regularize their legal status or access civil registration procedures and basic social services. They are largely dependent on UNRWA for basic subsistence needs, including food and shelter, as well as basic education and health care.
In Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, UNRWA remains the main provider of basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees. The Agency's pre-existing structures, supply chains and workforce have enabled an effective response to the crisis, through a rapid expansion of humanitarian operations and the adaptation of development programmes to meet changing needs.
Due to the deterioration of conditions inside Syria and the protracted displacement of Palestine refugees to Lebanon and Jordan, the critical lifeline provided by UNRWA is required more than ever. In 2016, UNRWA needs US$ 414 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in the region. The Agency's humanitarian response will be guided by the following strategic priorities:
• To preserve the resilience of vulnerable families through the provision of humanitarian assistance in the form of cash, food or relief items.
• To provide a protective framework for Palestine refugees and help mitigate their vulnerability by maintaining access to basic services, including education; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and livelihoods, and promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law.
• To strengthen humanitarian capacity, coordination and management to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency programme delivery.
Activities described in this plan are consistent with the priorities and interventions in the 2016 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2016-2017. They will be complemented by ongoing operations supported by the Agency's regular budget, particularly in the areas of education and health.