SYRIA REGIONAL CRISIS RESPONSE UPDATE 85
On 9 February, a visit to Husseinieh was possible for the first time in over 18 months. This represented an important first step in restoring UNRWA services and making the area habitable for returning civilians. Nine UNRWA installations, including four schools and a health centre, require repair, while major reconstruction efforts are needed to restore homes, electricity, water and sanitation networks. To read more about this visit, please click here.
The Government of Japan contributed to the UNRWA winterization response. The contribution came immediately after a snow storm swept through the Middle East, resulting in extremely harsh living conditions for displaced Palestine refugees, some of whom are living in tents covered in snow, and in facilities not designed to host such a large number of residents. UNRWA struggled to provide dedicated winterization assistance because funding shortfalls have forced a focus on the most critical interventions. In Syria, 2,431 refugees will each receive a blanket and a mattress. With many IDPs living in shelters for over two years now, these are much needed. In Lebanon and Jordan, the contribution boosted emergency cash assistance for around 1,000 especially-vulnerable families in the final winter months of this season.
In Jordan, 410 Palestine refugee students from Syria enjoyed a Winter Recreation Day held at three UNRWA schools. In the words of Danya, in 10th grade, the day was “beautiful and creative”. Riham, a 4th grader, said: “I like to design and build things with my hands, one day I want to become an artist.” The event was held following specialized training on psychosocial support for 21 UNRWA staff.
Of the 17 United Nations staff killed in Syria as a result of the conflict, 14 are UNRWA staff. Thirty UNRWA staff are currently detained or missing and many have been injured during the course of the conflict.
Displacement. Of approximately 560,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, over 50 per cent are estimated to have been displaced within Syria, with a further 12 per cent displaced to neighbouring countries. In Lebanon, 45,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have been recorded with UNRWA; in Jordan close to 15,000 and in Gaza around 1,000 people have approached UNRWA for assistance. The Agency also received reports of around 4,000 Palestine refugees in Egypt and large groups further afield.
Funding. At the end of February, the total pledged amount against the 2015 appeal stood at US$ 10.6 million, including US$ 7.9 million pledged in 2014 for implementation in 2015. This is equivalent to 2.5 per cent funding of the total appeal, which covers the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees affected by the crisis and totals US$ 415 million.
Inter-agency. The 3RP (covering UNRWA operations in Lebanon and Jordan) can be found on www.3rpsyriacrisis.org and the SRP (covering the whole of Syria) here (PDF). Regional coordination focused on reporting on the RRP6 (the 2014 predecessor of 3RP) and on preparations for the third pledging conference in Kuwait.
Media. Media highlights included:
• The Jordan Times carried an open letter written by a Palestine refugee: a cautionary tale of what Syrians should expect based on the Palestinian experience. Predominant themes were a lack of trust of governments and the need for self-resilience, unity and love for Syria.
• The lack of food distribution in Yarmouk throughout February was reported in both regional and international news.
• Middle East Monitor profiled a Palestine refugee from Syria who claimed asylum in the UK, after having been rejected at the Jordanian border and denied residency in Lebanon.
• Several articles referenced a report by the International Labour Organization that stated that of the 1,500 children working and living on Lebanese streets, 8 per cent are Palestinian. The children earn less than US$ 12 per day and do not attend school; 42 per cent are illiterate.
Approximately 560,000 Palestine refugees are registered in Syria. Of these, around 280,000 have been displaced inside Syria and over 80,000 to other countries. UNRWA is housing 10,601 IDPs in 30 UNRWA-managed collective centres in the Damascus area, and a further 1,649 IDPs in the rest of the country.
Yarmouk. Yarmouk and its surrounding areas continued to experience high levels of armed violence, which profoundly impacted key UNRWA humanitarian interventions. UNRWA was unable to complete a successful distribution between 6 December, 2014, and 5 March, 2015. In addition, UNRWA was unable to operate its temporary health point or provide residents with clean water and basic non-food items. UNRWA was able to re-establish humanitarian distributions in Yarmouk on 5 March – further detail will be provided in the next monthly update. Yarmouk is home to 18,000 Palestine refugees who remain trapped in the besieged area. Go to the UNRWA Yarmouk crisis page for the latest updates.
Education. UNRWA upgraded eight safe spaces to be used as learning centres for 4,400 children (56 per cent girls and 44 per cent boys) residing in collective centres. The centres provide supervised learning, but using self-learning materials covering mathematics, English, Arabic, French and science. Recreational activities are facilitated by 55 staff members trained in psychosocial care throughout the country.
Health. A new health centre was opened in Rukn Eddin Camp in Damascus, offering comprehensive health care, including dental services and maternal health services. In close cooperation with UNICEF, UNRWA held a hygiene awareness campaign.
Emergency relief. The first round of cash distribution for 2015 started on 18 January. Between 18 January and 28 February, UNRWA provided 438,351 Palestine refugees with cash assistance, with the distribution still ongoing. UNRWA funding for the cash programme is set to run out in March 2015.
Shelter. Many Palestine refugee families face mental health issues as a result of the ongoing conflict. The Damascus Training Centre Collective Centre has started offering courses to parents supporting traumatised children (click herefor more). UNRWA is housing 10,601 Palestine refugees and internally-displaced Syrians (3,048 families) in 30 UNRWA and UNRWA-managed temporary collective centres in Damascus and surrounding areas. In Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, UNRWA supports 1,649 displaced persons (418 families) in UNRWA and non-UNRWA installations.
WASH. UNRWA distributed 3,620 hygiene kits to refugees in collective centres. Each hygiene kit contains soap, shampoo, disinfectant, washing detergent and other sanitary items to last a family of four for one month. UNRWA conducts regular maintenance, garbage collection, plumbing and sanitation works in all accessible facilities, camps and gatherings. UNRWA distributed 24,581 adult and baby diaper packs to displaced refugee families, in addition to 125 baby kits.
Around 45,000 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) have been recorded by UNRWA in Lebanon, all of whom continue to have access to UNRWA programmes in Lebanon.
Emergency relief. In Lebanon, UNRWA will only be able to sustain cash assistance for food and shelter for 43,500 people through to the end of the year if additional donations are forthcoming. UNRWA cash assistance represents the sole income for over 75 per cent of PRS. In February, 43,507 people were credited. UNRWA transitioned to vulnerability- based assistance following a vulnerability assessment and headcount conducted in July 2014. The majority of PRS remain eligible for UNRWA cash assistance, pending availability of funds. All PRS continue to have access to core UNRWA programmes.
Protection. UNRWA is monitoring of the implementation of the September circular, which announced that PRS with expired visas could regularize their status free of charge for three months. This circular is being applied inconsistently throughout the country, and many PRS did not approach the authorities for fear of arrest. From 5 January, new restrictions are being applied on the entry of Syrian nationals into Lebanon, with humanitarian criteria to be applied to extremely vulnerable cases of displaced Syrians seeking entry into Lebanon. UNRWA has provided input regarding the expansion of the criteria, and advocates its application to PRS.
Education. As of February 2015, there are 6,118 regularly-attending PRS students (2,918 males; 3,200 females) in 60 schools throughout Lebanon. UNRWA remains committed to providing quality education to PRS and PRL students. The start of 2015 saw a number of EU and UNICEF funded training courses conducted for PRS teachers, covering topics including inclusive education, refresher pedagogy courses and English language teaching. Recreational and psychosocial support activities are ongoing and play a crucial role in creating learning environments where PRS students feel psychologically and socially secure. In January and February, the Norwegian Refugee Council organized recreational activities in seven schools in Beqaa, Saida, and Tyre. Health tutors have also regularly been conducting awareness sessions in schools with PRS students on personal hygiene and nutrition.
Environmental health. During January and February 2015, UNRWA continued to rehabilitate the sewerage network and water supply system in Burj Barajneh camp. In Ein El Hilweh camp, UNRWA made good progress in upgrading the water infrastructure network. Additional activities supporting the water supply systems in Rashidieh and Beddawi camps were also undertaken during this period. In an effort to improve the environmental health conditions inside the camps, extra sanitation labourers were deployed to assist with waste disposal and almost 3,000 refuse bins were being prepared for distribution to Palestine Refugee camps across Lebanon.
In Jordan, 15,219 Palestine refugees from Syria have approached UNRWA for assistance. This is an increase of 147 since January. A total of 185 new PRS recorded with UNRWA in Jordan in February; several persons who had been recorded were deactivated. Growth in PRS recordings in Jordan had slowed in the last quarter of 2014, to an average of 61 people a month. However, a significant upturn has been seen in the first two months of 2015, with the average almost tripling to 208 people approaching UNRWA per month. UNRWA is monitoring this trend closely.
Emergency relief. As of February, 82 per cent of PRS are categorized as most vulnerable and 43 per cent as extremely vulnerable. Food and NFI cash assistance was delivered to 11,636 of the most vulnerable PRS in January, covering one-and-a-half months of support. However, no funding is confirmed after April. Shelter assistance could not be delivered in February or January, or throughout 2014, due to critical funding shortfalls. Winterization assistance was topped-up for 180 vulnerable female-headed households. Emergency cash grants were delivered to 36 households in February, at an average of US$ 393 assistance per household. This is an important tool to protect the resilience of households faced with a major crisis (such as eviction). Cash assistance is complemented by follow-up from UNRWA social workers to provide non-financial support.
Protection. UNRWA is aware of 31 cases of refoulement since January 2014, including 18 children. UNRWA is concerned for the welfare of these individuals, who may face persecution and physical threat in Syria.
Education. This academic year, 1,696 children from Syria (PRS and Syrian children living in the Palestine refugee camps) are enrolled in 141 UNRWA schools. UNICEF supports non-Palestinian Syrian students who enrolled in UNRWA schools in the previous academic year or earlier. However, 800 Syrian children living in Palestine refugee camps could not be newly enrolled in UNRWA schools due to funding shortfalls and lack of space. In partnership with UNICEF, referrals for formal or informal education for these children are beginning. Twenty-one psychosocial support counsellors received psychosocial support training in February.
Health. In February, there were 1,468 PRS visits to UNRWA health centres. Patients requiring secondary or tertiary health care are referred to external health care providers, and their costs are fully covered by UNRWA. In February, PRS received 56 secondary or tertiary health care consultations.