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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
12 September 2014


SYRIA REGIONAL CRISIS RESPONSE UPDATE 78

12 September 2014


1 september 2014 | issue 78

More than half a million Palestine refugees are directly affected by the conflict in Syria. The UNRWA response aims to preserve refugees' resilience through the continuation of UNRWA services plus humanitarian relief. For a more detailed overview, see the Agency's 2014 Syria regional crisis response here. This biweekly update covers UNRWA efforts from 6 to 31 August.

HIGHLIGHTS

UNRWA is implementing a holistic Education in Emergencies programme for Palestine refugee students in Syria and those displaced to Lebanon and Jordan. This is implemented by the UNRWA Education Department at headquarters in Amman and by field offices in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, in line with the internationally recognized minimum education standards determined by Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. The programme is funded by the EU Instrument for Stability and Qatar Educate Above All Foundation. The integrated programme includes the following.

An integrated multi-media package of self-learning materials to enable students to keep up with the curriculum when schools are closed, damaged or not accessible. This package comprises an interactive learning programme for grades one to six, UNRWA TV lessons based on the Syrian curriculum, and study plans and self-learning materials in core subjects that are being distributed in hard copy and on DVD to students in Syria.

Psychosocial support to students in or displaced from Syria. We have recruited and trained 79 psychosocial counselors in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Continuing education despite the conflict, by providing: back to school kits for students; an SMS teacher notification system; safe learning spaces by rehabilitating schools, establishing teaching facilities in IDP centres, establishing learning resource centres and providing necessary supplies; establishing school-student committees; providing social and recreational activities and summer education; and providing transport for students living far from schools.

Improved safety and security for UNRWA staff and Palestine refugee children by providing hostile environment awareness training for school principals and managers.

REGIONAL OVERVIEW

Of the 17 United Nations staff killed in Syria as a result of the conflict, 13 are UNRWA staff. Twenty-seven UNRWA staff are currently detained or missing. Twenty-six UNRWA staff have been injured.

Displacement. Out of approximately 540,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, over 50 per cent are estimated to have been displaced within Syria or to neighbouring countries. In Lebanon, 42,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have been recorded with UNRWA; in Jordan 14,290 and in Gaza 860 have approached UNRWA for assistance. The Agency also received reports of around 4,000 Palestine refugees in Egypt and smaller numbers in Libya, Turkey and East Asia.

Funding. The total pledged amount against the 2014 Response Plan stands at $156.9 million, including $33.8 million pledged in 2013 for implementation in 2014. This amount is equivalent to 38 per cent of the total budget of the 2014 Syria regional crisis response required for January-December 2014 ($417 million). Of the total response plan, 74 per cent is budgeted for implementation in Syria, 22 per cent in Lebanon, 3.5 per cent in Jordan and 0.5 per cent for regional coordination.

Inter-agency. Outlines have been drafted for the Refugee and Resilience Response Plan (3RP) for 2015-2016, covering the UN and NGO response to the Syria crisis in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey. The outlines were shared with fields and clusters at a workshop in Amman. The fields, including UNRWA operations in Lebanon and Jordan, will now help draft the plan for 2015 and 2016 in their respective UN country teams. The regional team will begin reviewing these drafts at the end of September.

Media. UNRWA photos and messaging from the Syria crisis have remained visible in international and regional news A feature piece about Ahmad, a pianist who plays music to overcome the difficult circumstances in Yarmouk Camp, was widely featured . Also, the recent UN story “”, which released a new official death count of 191,000, used an UNRWA-credited photo of civilians in Yarmouk. Earlier in the month, the Jordan Times published a feature on a PRS summer camp in Jordan that included EU visibility.

SYRIA

UNRWA serves approximately 540,000 Palestine refugees registered in Syria. Of these, around 270,000 have been displaced inside Syria and over 70,000 to other countries. Sixteen UNRWA installations across Syria house 6,437 internally displaced persons (IDPs), of whom nine per cent are Syrians. A further 4,631 Palestinians are sheltering in other UNRWA-managed installations, a small increase since the previous report. A shelter in the Ramadan area of Damascus has been closed.

Yarmouk. During the reporting period, UNRWA was able to distribute 2,088 food parcels to the 18,000 civilians trapped in Yarmouk. Clashes broke out on a few occasions during this period, causing a pause in distributions for 11 days; UNRWA was able to enter Yarmouk on 15 days. When distribution was possible, medical staff at the temporary health point that was set up on 24 June were able to see patients in Yarmouk, sometimes more than 100 per day. A total of 2,452 hygiene kits were also distributed. The humanitarian situation in Yarmouk remains desperate and UNRWA appeals to all parties to do everything in their power to end the suffering of the over 18,000 civilians trapped there. UNRWA is deeply concerned that the recourse to armed violence frequently interrupts life-saving humanitarian operations in Yarmouk.

Area
Name
Access from outside
Description
DamascusJaramana (official camp)AccessibleJaramana camp and town were relatively calm. A health centre is operational, three schools house IDPs and three alternative schools provide classes for UNRWA students.
Khan Danoun (official camp)AccessibleThe camp itself is calm. A health centre remains operational, staffed by local colleagues. Two schools house IDPs. One alternative school is used to provide classes for UNRWA students.
Khan Eshieh (official camp)Not accessibleThe camp itself is reported to be calm again, but hostilities in the surrounding areas have made the camp inaccessible. The last distribution inside the camp took place in August 2013. Although residents are allowed out of the camp to receive food distributions, they are not allowed to bring anything back into the camp. National UNRWA staff have kept one health centre and one health point open. One UNRWA school houses IDPs and classes are provided for students in two alternative schools.
Qabr Essit (official camp)AccessibleQabr Essit has remained relatively calm. An agreement has been made to clear rubble from the camp and installations are being prepared for use.
Sbeineh (official camp)Not accessibleIt is assumed that the vast majority of Palestine refugees have left the camp, none have so far been permitted to return, and all facilities remain closed.
Yarmouk (unofficial camp)Not accessibleYarmouk camp is reported to be calm at present and distributions took place recently. But clashes have disrupted distribution and access remains heavily limited.
Central area

Hama (official camp)AccessibleThe camp has remained calm and all facilities are operational.
Homs (official camp)AccessibleThe camp has remained calm and all facilities are operational.
Lattakia (unofficial camp)AccessibleThe camp has remained calm and all facilities are operational.
North area
Ein el Tal (unofficial camp)Not accessibleThe camp remains abandoned, since residents were forcibly displaced by armed groups in April 2013, and access remains blocked.
Neirab (official camp)AccessibleThe camp has remained relatively calm and all facilities are operational.
South areaDera'a (official camp)Not accessibleVery few civilians remain in the camp. The camp itself has been calm but its immediate vicinity continues to experience sporadic armed conflict. UNRWA facilities were partially operational but lack internet and power, impeding operations.

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Education. UNRWA has kept 62 schools open for remedial classes and psychosocial support throughout the summer. Over 13,000 students have participated in summer learning activities throughout Syria since the beginning of July 2014. UNRWA received 170 recreational kits from UNICEF, which were distributed in July and August to the schools organising summer learning activities.

Health. Nine health centres are operational in Damascus, and one each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. In addition, eight health points are operational in Damascus, and one in Aleppo. These health centres have enough medicine and supplies to last until the end of October 2014. UNRWA continued to provide primary health care at a temporary health point inside Yarmouk near the UNRWA distribution area. UNRWA expanded the health point serving its largest collective shelter in the Damascus Training Centre to include laboratory services, thereby improving access to a wider range of critical healthcare for the 1,247 displaced persons residing there.

Emergency relief. UNRWA initiated a second round of food distribution in June, which was ongoing at the time of this update, with 84,229 food parcels being distributed to 76,166 families across Syria. The second round of cash assistance was approaching completion, with over 458,000 Palestine refugees served. As yet, there are not sufficient funds to complete a full third round and there are no funds for a fourth round. The original plan has already been reduced from six to four rounds, in light of funding shortfalls. Each round provides two months of cash assistance per person, amounting to $64.

Infrastructure and camp improvement. UNRWA is moving forward with the restoration of critical services in Qabr Essit camp in Damascus City. The rehabilitation of the Women’s Programme Centre compound, including the distribution centre, was completed. The rehabilitation of one of the schools is nearing completion. However, the reconstruction of another heavily damaged school in Qabr Essit remains unfunded to date.

LEBANON

In recent weeks, UNRWA conducted a headcount and comprehensive vulnerability assessment of all Palestine Refugees from Syria (PRS) recorded with the Agency in Lebanon, to facilitate better planning and utilisation of resources. Results of the assessment indicate that there are 42,000 individuals in Lebanon.

Protection, legal status and advice. The restrictions imposed by the Lebanese Government in early May 2014 continue to deny entry to many PRS trying to leave Syria, including those seeking reunification with family. These restrictions also affect PRS already in country: many PRS are unable to renew their visas, unlike the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and all PRS are denied extending their visas beyond a year. As a result, more and more PRS remain in Lebanon irregularly and face an array of protection concerns, including limits on their freedom of movement and inability to complete civil registration procedures such as birth registration. UNRWA continues constructive dialogue with the Lebanese government, reiterating calls for the borders to remain open for all refugees, for refugees to maintain legal status in the country, and for the principle of ‘no detention, no deportation’. UNRWA continues to provide legal advice and counselling to PRS.

Emergency relief assistance. UNRWA provides cash assistance, by crediting ATM cards issued to beneficiaries. In July, 41,171 beneficiaries received assistance totalling $1.22 million for food and $1.11 million for housing. Assistance for 2014 is based on $30 per person for food and $100 per family for housing on a monthly basis pending the availability of funds. UNRWA also carried out a targeted distribution of non-food items to vulnerable families in July. Kitchen, hygiene and bedding kits, jerry cans and other essential items were provided to 570 families.

Environmental health. UNRWA has recently developed a water scarcity plan to minimize the effects of water shortage in the camps. The plan includes installing water monitoring systems at the bottom of wells that will provide valuable data, including salinity rates, potential contamination and water levels. Activities also address other urgent needs: lowering pumps, replacing equipment and detecting leakages. UNRWA is currently working with partners to synchronize contingency schemes to reduce environmental health risks and plan for proper use of underground water.

Health. UNRWA provides primary health care services, including medications, for PRS through 27 health centres throughout the country. The Agency also covers their secondary health care costs and contributes towards hospitalization for emergency and life-threatening conditions. Additionally, UNRWA supports emergency room services at Palestine Red Crescent Society hospitals and partially covers these services at other hospitals it contracts for services. Since April 2013, the Agency has raised funds to directly support individuals with serious medical conditions who cannot afford costly medical procedures.

Education. 7,530 PRS students are enrolled in UNRWA schools in Lebanon. Sixty-seven per cent attend special classes for PRS and will gradually join the 33 per cent already attending regular classes. PRS students completed all final school exams by 21 July. Iftar gatherings funded by UNICEF were held in 19 UNWRA schools attended by PRS and PRL across the country. Special recreational activities called ‘Play and Learn 2014’ were attended by 55 PRS.

JORDAN

In Jordan, 14,348 PRS and their families have approached UNRWA, an increase of 58 since the last report. Most PRS in Jordan live in poverty and their precarious legal status creates difficulties for civil processes, access to services and employment. Along with some 200 Syrians, 193 PRS are held in Cyber City, a government-appointed facility near Ramtha.

Education. Admission to UNRWA schools in official and unofficial UNRWA camps is open to PRS and Syrian children; 2,121 PRS and Syrian children are enrolled in UNRWA schools, an estimated enrolment rate of 85 per cent of PRS children in all schools, including 54 per cent girls. Since February, 287 new children have enrolled and 44 students graduated from grade 10 in June. The children are integrated in regular and remedial classes and follow the Jordanian curriculum. UNRWA expects the number of students from Syria enrolled in UNRWA schools to reach about 2,900 by the end of the year. UNRWA monitors drop-outs and offers targeted solutions to encourage families to enroll their children.

Health. UNRWA continues to provide PRS with free primary health care in its 24 clinics across the country, as well as hospital referrals for emergency and life-saving care with almost full coverage. In the first half of August 2014, PRS received approximately 650 consultations. Overall, PRS have good access to health care, with 98 per cent reporting they receive medical care when they need it.

Emergency relief. In early August, UNRWA received the result of an evaluation of its previous “hand-to-hand” cash distribution programme that was carried out in July across three areas (with the evaluation currently underway in the final area). The evaluation provides an important baseline against which to assess future progress. A sample of 34 PRS families was surveyed across the three areas. All of these families reported having received cash assistance from UNRWA in Jordan and families reported receiving an average of three cash instalments. UNRWA cash assistance was overwhelmingly used to cover the costs of shelter and food, with 71 per cent of beneficiaries citing rent as one of their top three expenditures with the money received, and 59 per cent citing food expenditure. Beneficiaries reported a high level of satisfaction with UNRWA communications relating to cash assistance, with 97 per cent of beneficiaries reporting that they were satisfied, reflecting the efforts of UNRWA frontline staff in this regard, whereas 76 per cent of the PRS were satisfied with the previous method of cash distribution. UNRWA expects that satisfaction levels will increase significantly with the full shift to ATM-based cash programming.


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