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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
16 March 2016

Operational Missions in Yalda: Access to distribute humanitarian assistance for residents of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham was made possible for the first time since June from a distribution point in Yalda. From 13 to 29 February, UNRWA distributed 5,700 food parcels; 19,160 blankets; and 2,400 hygiene kits containing shampoo, a hair brush, sanitary items, soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and laundry detergent to residents of Yalda, Babila, Beit Saham and Yarmouk. Access to certain other areas, however, remained limited and insufficient to cover the increasing humanitarian needs of the Palestine refugee population during February. UNRWA continues to coordinate with other humanitarian partners and hopes this renewed access, facilitated by the Syrian authorities, will lead to sustained operations in the area.


In February, UNRWA distributed US$ 13,292,311 to a total of 205,022 refugees (60,882 families) in Damascus, Aleppo, Dera'a, Swayda, Horns, Latakia and Hama. This was a part of the first round of cash assistance for 2016, which started on 17 January and will conclude mid-March. The UNRWA cash assistance programme is implemented through a network of partners, including two banks, a money vendor and, occasionally, through UNRWA facilities from a total 34 distribution points across Syria. For many beneficiaries, the majority of their cash assistance is prioritized for food and rent; other needs, such as clothing and health-care costs, can also be met, making cash assistance an appropriate intervention in this context.


While food remains available in most markets, inflation and restricted access means food assistance from UNRWA continues to be a vital intervention for many Palestine refugees. UNRWA distributed 51,527 family food parcels in February, benefiting up to 187,724 individuals via 17 distribution centres in the Damascus area, Hama, Horns, Latakia, Aleppo and Dera'a. Khan Eshieh and Ramadan continue to experience access difficulties. The Agency's first round of food assistance commenced on 2 February and is operating for six weeks.


The number of residents in shelters continued to decline in February 2016. UNRWA currently hosts 3,452 Palestine refugees (1,021 families) in 13 collective shelters, located in various UNRWA installations, schools and training centres in Damascus and Latakia and two non-UNRWA facilities in Khan Dunoun camp. The Agency provided 325 food parcels and 40,564 additional canned food items, 450 packs of adult diapers, and 2,730 brooms, brushes and sponges to residents of shelters in the Damascus area.


UNRWA continued to provide health care to up to 450,000 refugees in Syria through 15 health centres and 11 health points, as well as dental services through 12 health centres and 3 health points. UNRWA also maintained agreements with 11 hospitals to offer subsidized care to Palestine refugees in Syria. In February, UNRWA conducted, on average, 81,634 patient consultations and approximately 7,723 dental consultations, of which approximately 44.3 per cent were preventative dental treatments.


Due to the current security situation, around 60 per cent of UNRWA schools are either damaged, inaccessible or have been converted into IDP shelters. Ninety per cent of UNRWA schools - either UNRWA-owned, rented by UNRWA or hosted by the Ministry of Education - maintain double-shift curriculums. Five per cent of schools (Khan Dunoun) operate on triple shifts. This is in order to accommodate the 45,267 students attending 99 schools, of which 44 are UNRWA schools and 55 are in government schools. The total number of students consists of 23,402 males and 21,865 females, with the highest concentration of students attending schools in the Damascus area with 33,380 students in total.


Palestine refugees from Yarmouk have reported an increased incidence of WASH-related diseases. Residents are relying on untreated water from shallow wells for their daily needs. A lack of fuel prevents adequate water treatment and a lack of medicines further compounds vulnerabilities, particularly for children and the elderly, resulting in heightened health risks for the community. In February 2016,1,196 hygiene kits, 477 packs of baby diapers and 709 baby kits were distributed to displaced refugees in collective shelters. UNRWA also maintained regular garbage collection, rehabilitation of sewage systems infrastructure, supply of chemicals for water treatment, equipment, spare parts, and fuel to camps and host communities where access is possible.

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