The war in Syria is devastating the lives of over half a million Palestine refugees who have been living in exile for six decades. The UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan for 2014, published today, sets out the Agency’s interventions to strengthen the resilience of Palestine refugees, and to help them weather the dangers of the conflict.
The outlook for Palestine refugees from Syria is increasingly bleak, as communities, livelihoods, assets and support networks painstakingly built over decades are being destroyed. Proportionally, displacement among Palestinians is much higher than that of Syrians, and the threats to safe refuge in Syria combined with severely restricted options for flight has confronted Palestine refugees with unprecedented challenges. The Plan outlines how UNRWA facilities, services and considerable humanitarian assets across the region will be harnessed and deployed to support Palestine refugees, as well as many Syrians, throughout the coming year.
“The UNRWA 2014 Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan deserves full donor support, as it is a practical and effective framework for easing the suffering of Palestine refugees inside Syria and across the region,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi. “In spite of untold hardship and widespread displacement, which have now overwhelmed most Palestinian communities and camps, UNRWA will build on the experience of the last two years to continue to help Palestine refugees survive the extreme conditions imposed by the Syria conflict.”
UNRWA emergency assistance is delivered alongside its well-established programmes in health, education, community development, microfinance, relief, youth training and employment. Delivered by over 3,000 Palestinians staff, this support provides a critical source of community and family resilience and continuity in the face of growing hardship. Of the 540,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, about 270,000 are displaced in the country, and an estimated 80,000 have fled. Fifty-one thousand have reached Lebanon, 11,000 have identified themselves in Jordan, 5,000 are in Egypt, and smaller numbers have reached Gaza, Turkey and farther afield. Those who have reached Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt face risky legal limbo compounded with living conditions so difficult that many decide to return to the dangers inside Syria.
UNRWA requires US$ 417.4 million to respond adequately, of which US$ 310 million will support humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees inside Syria, US$ 90.4 million in Lebanon and US$ 14.6 million in Jordan. US$ 2.4 million is required for emergency response outside of the purview of these three field offices, including cash assistance for Palestinian families from Syria in Gaza, regional coordination, support and advocacy.
“Humanitarian assistance can only go so far,” stated Mr. Grandi. “As the conflict enters its third year, I strongly renew my previous appeals to all parties to act in accordance with international law, particularly as regards the protection of Syrian and Palestinian civilians. It is now more urgent than ever to acknowledge the futility of violence as a means to resolve political differences, and to seek a negotiated, peaceful end to the hostilities.”
To read the plan, please click here.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 36 million.
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