On 1 December, UNRWA launched the #shareyourwarmth winterization campaign, with a target of raising US$ 2 million to ensure that the most vulnerable Palestine refugees have the food and shelter they need to prepare for and cope during the winter months. The campaign has gained widespread media coverage and reached close to 6.2 million people on social media.
UNRWA distributed the equivalent of US$ 1,279,596 to 23,525 vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria (or 7,130 families) as part of the third round of cash assistance throughout December, in addition to cash for 837 Special Hardship Cases (or 323 families). Cash assistance is a critical lifeline for Palestine refugees in Syria, often meaning the difference between meeting their food and non-food item (NFI) needs or going hungry and cold through the harsh winter months. Thanks to donor funding, UNRWA will also undertake a winter round of cash assistance starting in January 2016
The Agency distributed food parcels to approximately 30,597 families via 11 distribution centres in the Damascus area, Hama, Homs, Latakia and Dera'a. UNRWA also provided 867 food parcels and regular meals to 2,880 residents (679 families) in collective shelters in Damascus, Rif Damascus and Latakia.
UNRWA currently hosts 3,709 Palestine refugees (1,072 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 2,427 non-food items including 1,919 blankets, 365 mattresses, tarpaulins, clothing sets and kitchen sets to refugees at the Alliance distribution centre and to refugees living in 12 shelters in the Damascus area in December. The number of shelters has continued to decline over the month, allowing facilities to be returned to their previous functions. Two shelters in Jaramana were recently renovated and reopened as schools in December.
UNRWA continues to provide health care to up to 450,000 refugees in Syria through 15 health centres and 11 health points. The Agency has also conducted 78,361 patient consultations this month, of which 57.2 per cent were female. The Alliance Health Centre in Damascus received the highest number of consultations with 7,383, and a total of 62,761 beneficiaries received essential medicines and supplies in December.
In December, 45,380 students were enrolled in 99 schools across Syria, 44 of which are hosted in UNRWA facilities and 55 in non-UNRWA schools provided by the Ministry of Education. UNRWA distributed 10,480 back-to-schools kits to students from grades 1 to 4 in Husseiniyeh, Khan Dunoun, Qabr Essit, Khan Eshieh, Sasa', Maloul, Qudsaya and Jaramana. The conflict in Syria has further increased the number of out-of-school children, especially in hard-to-reach and besieged areas. In order to continue providing quality education to Palestine refugee students, the Agency rolled out a self-learning material (SLM) programme. So far, UNRWA has provided over 11,500 sets of SLM to students unable to attend regular classes for English and Arabic.
WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE:
In the effort to mitigate the risk of disease, UNRWA provides regular garbage collection, rehabilitation of sewage systems infrastructure, supply of chemicals for treatment, equipment, spare parts, and fuel to camps and host communities. UNRWA continues to provide water to Khan Dunoun, Khan Eshieh, Artouz and Swayda in response to water shortages and supplies aqua tablets and filters to ensure safe drinking water.
In December, a total of 159 students successfully graduated from vocational training courses. The average duration of courses is 3-4 months, with many courses due to conclude in January. UNRWA currently offers 66 short- and long-term vocational training courses in 25 subjects, with two new classes in hairdressing and beauty care starting in December. The seventh round of vocational courses currently has 1,364 trainees enrolled, of which 843 are female.