UNRWA has distributed 8,173 food parcels to Palestine refugees (PR) in Yarmouk since 18 January, facilitated by authorities on the ground. No food parcels were distributed in this period due to ongoing hostilities. UNRWA distributed 465 food parcels on 18 March, along with 2,000 doses of polio vaccine and 800 small cartons of baby formula through the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
Set against the substantial civilian needs and protracted closure of Yarmouk, the modest supplies UNRWA has taken in are not enough. UNRWA requires secure, substantial and sustained humanitarian access, as the UN Security Council has unanimously requested. UNRWA calls on all concerned parties to ensure the establishment and maintenance of conditions that facilitate full access to Yarmouk.
UNRWA launched a Thunderclap social-media campaign for humanitarian access to Yarmouk and all civilian areas of Syria. We achieved the aim of reaching 23 million people, the pre-war population of Syria. As a result, the iconic image of thousands of people waiting for food in Yarmouk will appear on the massive electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square on Thursday 20 March at 7.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. local time for five minutes each. A flash-mob vigil is being organized underneath it when the image appears. UNRWA will photograph this and tweet it back to the people inside Syria in an act of solidarity and support. You can still join the campaign at
Over 30 Celebrities ask the UN “What are you doing about Syria?”
On 15 March, over 30 leading filmmakers, writers, artists, musicians and public figures made a joint public appeal to UN asking the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council to make clear what they are doing to create “local ceasefires” and “safe spaces” for all civilians in Syria. The joint statement is endorsed by the Hoping Foundation and UNRWA. See
http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press- releases/over-30-celebrities-ask-un-%E2%80%9Cwhat-are- you-doing-about-syria%E2%80%9D
See the UNRWA Syria website:
http://www.unrwa.org/syria- crisis#zoom=5&lat=34.05266&lon=33.57422&laye rs=000BT0
A reported but unconfirmed 8 Palestine Refugees (PR) were killed in the last two weeks as a result of the conflict. UNRWA estimates over 50 per cent of registered PR are displaced in Syria or in neighbouring countries.
Approximately 270,000 PR are displaced in Syria: over 200,000 in Damascus, around 6,600 in Aleppo, 4,500 in Latakia, 3,050 in Hama, 6,450 in Homs and 13,100 in Dera’a. In Jordan, 12,073 PR from Syria (PRS) have registered with UNRWA, as have 52,788 in Lebanon. Reports cite 6,000 PRS in Egypt, 1,100 in Libya, 1,000 in Gaza and numbers in Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
1. Situation Summary
· Despite considerable challenges, UNRWA is continuing to deliver emergency relief, health and education services to PR across Syria.
· So far in the conflict, 12 staff members have been killed, 25 are currently detained or reported missing and 24 have been injured. Twenty-two UNRWA vehicles have been stolen and remain unaccounted for. An UNRWA vehicle was damaged by disgruntled PR in Homs. A health centre in Mzerieb that had been damaged in a previous incident was burgled, but items were later recovered. An IDP in an UNRWA temporary collective shelter in Damascus reportedly fired a rifle and was removed from the centre.
· Hostilities mostly continued at the same levels as the previous report in areas of Damascus, showing some slight decreases from the previous period. Hostilities continued in Darayya but decreased in Moadhamiyeh and Khan Eshieh. Sporadic clashes and shelling continued in Jobar and Douma. Sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling were reported in Yarmouk camp throughout the period, causing the suspension of food-parcel distributions. This is an increase from previous weeks. An unconfirmed 8 PR were reportedly killed as a result, all in Yarmouk, as a result of medical conditions and shelling, a decrease from the previous report.
· YARMOUK AND SBEINEH CAMPS All access points remained sealed. Malnutrition is widespread, which, along with lack of health care, is contributing to a rising number of deaths.
· All area offices and Syria Field Office in Damascus were operational all week, with most staff attending.
UNRWA is sheltering 7,989 displaced PR and Syrians in 17 Agency facilities in Syria, an increase of 126 from the previous report. Of these, 84 per cent (6,725) are PR (see table 1). A further 4,011 PR are being sheltered in 17 non-UNRWA facilities in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia, an increase of 15 from the previous report.
2. Humanitarian Response
Over 44,099 PR children are attending 42 regular UNRWA schools and 43 governmental schools the Ministry of Education (MoE) agreed UNRWA can use in the afternoons where Agency schools are damaged or serving as shelters. UNRWA is undertaking essential maintenance works in the schools.
Forty-two out of 118 UNRWA schools in Syria are operational; 68 are closed due to damage or insecurity and 8 school premises with 16 schools are operating as temporary collective shelters for PR and displaced Syrians. Eight schools are operating both as schools and temporary collective shelters. Over 1,870 UNRWA teachers are working, as are 44 psychosocial counsellors. Self- learning materials are being prepared, in coordination with MoE.
Over 5,016 ninth-grade students have joined remedial classes since 15 January 2014. The classes are meant to fill learning gaps caused by the conflict and are due to continue until 15 March 2014, funded by UNICEF.
Induction training is being held in Damascus for newly recruited psychosocial counselors who will work in the schools from 17 to 20 March.
Youth development, community support: 1,125 PR students are receiving psychosocial support, first- aid training, life skills and extracurricular activities in Damascus, with preparations to extend this further.
Vocational and continuing education: 1,376 PR students are undertaking a wide range of short-term vocational education courses in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia, including accountancy, electronics, hair and beauty, cooking, graphic design, human resources and nursing. In Damascus, Hama, Homs and Latakia, 1,939 PR are undertaking courses in English, French, computer skills, literacy and numeracy. Preparations are under way to extend these further.
Business development: 34 young PR in Damascus are undertaking activities including start-up training and follow up, with preparations ongoing to extend this to Homs. In Damascus, Dera’a, Homs and Latakia, 444 young PR are also receiving career guidance.
Health centres and points: 9 health centres are operational in Damascus, and 1 each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. In Damascus, 8 health points are operational, as is 1 in Aleppo.
Medical supplies and hospitalization: Drug supplies were distributed to the north, south and Damascus areas, enough to last until the end of May 2014. Drug supplies have been distributed to health centres and points in Damascus. UNRWA is reimbursing non-contracted hospital bills, granting PR in Syria access to health facilities across the country.
Infectious diseases: Surveillance for infectious diseases is ongoing, especially for influenza-like illnesses.
An increase in the prevalence of psychosocial trauma and stress/anxiety disorders is reported.
Cash assistance: The first round 2014 distribution for 96,405 PR families started on 1 March 2014. PR families have been referred to outlets as follows: Damascus area – 37,000 families referred; Central area (Homs, Hama, Latakia) – 5,484 families referred and 1,299 families with special hardship cases; North area (Aleppo) – 4,447 families referred and 828 families with special hardship cases.
Food and NFI distributions: The third round of food distributions started on 23 February in Damascus. In the period, the following NFIs and food were distributed: nearly 121,500 portions of canned food; over 33,200 food baskets in Damascus, Hama, Dera’a, Homs and Latakia; nearly 18,000 portions of dry food; over 10,900 blankets; over 3,500 baby diapers and over 3,400 mattresses. Six distribution centres remain operational in Damascus.
Work is continuing with Iraqi PR in Syria, including regular counselling and visits in cooperation with UNHCR and local partners.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Sanitation: UNRWA is continuing to provide regular sanitation services to all PR camps and UNRWA facilities. Garbage collection and removal is being conducted on a regular basis for all PR camps and temporary collective centres, with additional sanitation labourers employed for this. Upgrading of sewerage systems in six camps and toilets in schools is being undertaken.
Water: Safe drinking water is being provided to temporary collective shelters, camps and gatherings.
Hygiene: Chlorine tablets and other hygiene equipment are being provided for camps and temporary collective shelters. Winterization: Activities for temporary shelters are in progress.
Maintenance: Works are being undertaken to install an electrical generator in a distribution centre. Regular maintenance of 200 UNRWA facilities and temporary collective shelters is being undertaken, as are security upgrades of facilities.
The programme financed 602 microfinance loans (207 in Tartous, 202 in Latakia, 74 in Sweyda and 119 in Damascus) in January 2014, valued at SYP 25.29 million (US$ 175,070). This brings the total number of active loans to 3,716, with an outstanding balance of SYP 98.79 million (US$ 683,874). As the programme fully staffs its branch offices in Tartous, Latakia and Sweyda, it plans to triple its current outreach to around 1,350 loans per month by April 2014, valued at around SYP 58.34 million each month (US$ 403,858). The portfolio at risk remains very low at just 0.54 per cent, the lowest of any field. The programme is currently following up a portfolio of 6,659 bad debts, of which 96 were closed in February and SYP 1.67 million (US$ 11,560) collected, leaving an outstanding balance of SYP 115.35 million (US$ 798,510).
In February, 11 staff members from Syria, including senior management, branch managers, accountants, cashiers and data-entry clerks attended a week-long training course on the new OmniEnterprise microbanking software, which will replace the current loan-management information system. They are now qualified to train the other staff in Syria on how to use the system, which will go live in May. This new online system will provide real-time data and reports on lending operations and will significantly enhance the management of the programme. As the software has already been rolled out in Palestine and Jordan, Syria will be the last field to adopt the new system. Before this can be completed, the Syria-specific loan parameters have to be set, the data transfer completed and the opening balances reconciled and entered in the system.
52,788 PRS registered with UNRWA in Lebanon
Of PRS in Lebanon, 31 per cent are in Saida, 18 per cent in Tyre, 18 per cent in central Lebanon, 17 per cent in Bekaa and 16 per cent in northern Lebanon. Over half – 51 per cent – reside in UNRWA camps, and the rest reside in private, rented accommodation or informal gatherings.
Education: 7,401 PRS children are attending UNRWA schools: 85 per cent attend special classes for PRS and 15 per cent are integrated in regular UNRWA classes for PR in Lebanon. More than 410 additional staff have been recruited, and UNRWA will conduct psychosocial-support and recreational activities through the school year and summer vacation for PRS students.
Health: UNRWA covers the cost of primary health and secondary-care services for PRS, including medical consultations and free medications, through its 27 health centres located throughout the country. UNRWA also contributes towards tertiary hospitalization for emergency and life-threatening conditions, and covers full emergency-room services at Palestine Red Crescent Society hospitals. UNRWA also provides additional support to cover medical bills for PRS suffering from critical health conditions.
Relief: A Winterization Programme was implemented from December 2013 to February 2014 to provide additional support to PRS families during the cold winter months. In February, in the final round of assistance, UNRWA provided 14,346 PRS families with housing assistance, and 14,367 PRS families with food assistance. Most assistance was distributed by crediting ATM cards issued to PRS in autumn 2013, except for separated or unaccompanied minors, who were supported directly through visits and payments.
Regular distributions for housing and food assistance took place in December, for 14,039 PRS families across Lebanon, and in February, for 14,347 PRS families.
As over 50 per cent of PRS reside in the Palestine refugee camps, this is placing strain on the already fragile environmental health-infrastructure, including water and sewerage infrastructure and management. UNRWA is upgrading the infrastructure systems in the camps in response. Some of this is being done through conditional cash subsidies to beneficiaries to carry out simple maintenance works as part of the Agency’s self-help approach. The Agency has also started an environmental-health promotion programme in the 12 camps, with a current focus on water conservation in the months with no rainfall.
Protection: UNRWA continues to monitor and offer advice and assistance to PRS crossing at the border and to advocate with the Lebanese government for equal treatment of all refugees at the border, as since August 2013, a number of refugees from Syria, including PRS, have been denied entry into Lebanon. Legal status in Lebanon is critical for protection vis-à-vis the Lebanese authorities, as it ensures PRS can pass through checkpoints, including to and from camps, and complete civil registration processes. UNRWA continues to provide legal advice and assistance to PRS who do not possess a valid Lebanese visa.
UNRWA held a psychosocial coordination meeting for local and international NGOs providing assistance to PRS. UNRWA has developed a psychosocial-support strategy for PRS of: ensuring professional and specialized staff are in the field, mainstreaming psychosocial support in UNRWA services and creating safe spaces for PRS. UNRWA is working with 17 partners to enhance coordination in the delivery of psychosocial support for PRS in Lebanon.
Funding: Lebanon’s appeal for 2014 is US$ 90.4 million.
12,073 PRS and their non-PR spouses and children are recorded with UNRWA in Jordan
A further 1,450 PRS are being recorded, bringing the total beneficiaries eligible for UNRWA assistance to 13,523. The number of recoded arrivals has reduced to around 100 per month. However, new recordings continue to exceed entries, and there is likely a significant number of PRS in Jordan who have not yet registered with UNRWA. PRS receive relief, education, health and protection services.
A large number of PRS live in abject poverty and their precarious legal status creates difficulties for civil processes, access to services and employment. Of recorded PRS, 80 per cent are women, children or elderly; 7 per cent have a disability and 21 per cent declare a chronic illness; 95 per cent of PRS come from the greater Damascus area and Dera’a province. The vast majority – 99 per cent – live in host communities, where 84 per cent pay rent and 12 per cent have free housing. Only 188 PRS are housed in ’Cyber City‘, the government-appointed facility near Ramtha.
Needs Assessment: UNRWA has just completed a multi-sector needs assessment of PRS in partnership with the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), and a summary will be circulated soon. The assessment found a large majority of PRS live in poverty. PRS rank income/livelihoods, followed by housing and non-food items, as their priority needs. Access to education and health services was good, with 85 per cent of school-age PRS children reportedly enrolled in school and 98 per cent of PRS receiving health care when they need it.
Education: Admission to the 173 UNRWA schools across Jordan is open to PRS and Syrian IDP children residing in 10 official and 3 unofficial PR camps. Currently, 2,092 PRS and Syrian children are enrolled in UNRWA schools, with 258 new students enrolled since the new semester in February. Over half, 54 per cent, are girls. The children are integrated in regular and remedial classes and follow the Jordanian curriculum. Fifty-seven more teachers have been hired to provide education, school furniture has been distributed and psychosocial and recreational activities are regularly organized to support students’ integration into the new schools.
A large number of PRS students are reportedly enrolled in public and private schools. The school enrollment rate of PRS children in Jordan is estimated at 85 per cent. There is a difference in enrollment between boys and girls, with 12 per cent of girls not being enrolled versus 18 per cent of boys. The main reasons given for not attending include: child labour; lack of a nearby school; a weak, sick or traumatized child; and school expenses. UNRWA monitors and responds to drop-outs and offers targeted solutions to encourage families with out-of-school children to enrol them.
Cash assistance: PRS rank income/livelihoods, followed by housing and non-food items, as their priority need. The large majority of PRS are poor, but their individual situations are highly diverse, with typical household expenditures of JOD 330 (US$ 467) - JOD 150 (US$ 212) on food and JOD 125 (US$ 177) on rent. Of all households, 57 per cent have one or more member engaged in paid labour, usually low-skilled or low-paid jobs; however, indicators are that even these families are in debt, which is a means by which 72 per cent of households meet their basic needs.
Providing regular relief assistance to vulnerable households, particularly those who are very vulnerable, is critical to prevent them from falling into abject poverty. However, the UNRWA PRS cash-assistance programme is chronically underfunded, and currently not funded beyond April 2014.
In February, 742 PRS received cash assistance to help them meet their basic needs for two months, and 99 PRS also received emergency cash grants to address an urgent protection or humanitarian need. Cash distributions for new arrivals will continue in March and a distribution for all PRS is scheduled for March-April. This should be the last distribution before UNRWA shifts to an ATM-based, targeted system.
Health: UNRWA continues to provide PRS with free primary health care in its 24 clinics across Jordan, and hospital referrals for emergency and life-saving care with full coverage, except when the cost is prohibitive. In February 2014, PRS made 1,488 consultations for primary health care in UNRWA clinics and the JHAS clinic in Cyber City, 69 visits for secondary care and 5 visits for tertiary care. There continues to be a high demand for oral-care services, with PRS making 232 consultations this month.
Overall, PRS have good access to health care, with 98 per cent reporting they received medical care when they needed it. However, 14 per cent of households report the overall health status of their household is bad or very bad, and one quarter of households declare over JOD 30 (US$ 42.50) per month in continuous medical expenses.
The needs assessment found PRS have significant psychosocial needs and identified serious problems such as displacement, fear of eviction in Jordan, being separated from family members and general distress. These needs are being responded to through referrals to specialized agencies, particularly for gender-based violence (GBV) and child-protection cases. A quarter of all external referrals are for psychosocial support.
Cyber City: Renovation works on bathroom facilities and electrical wires are nearly finished. Under its partnership agreement with UNRWA, Human Appeal International (HAI) continues to distribute hygiene kits to the residents of Cyber City, providing 130 kits in February 2014.
Funding: The UNRWA 2014 appeal for PRS in Jordan of US$ 14.5 million is just over 20 per cent funded so far, with contributions/pledges from the US, UK, Belgium, ECHO, Help Syria Through the Winter, Human Appeal Unternational (HAI), OCHA and UNICEF. Another US$ 11.6 million is needed to provide assistance for up to 20,000 PRS in Jordan by the end of 2014. Additional funding for cash assistance is urgently needed to continue cash distributions beyond April 2014.
Damascus / Rif Damascus:
East: Sporadic clashes and shelling continued in Jobar and the adjacent area, Eastern Ghouta. Extensive security force operations took place in Jobar area mid-period, but this is a slight reduction from previous weeks. Qaboun and Barzeh remained relatively calm, as in the previous report, continuing a reduction in hostilities from at least over the last eight months. However, all UNRWA facilities remain closed in the areas due to hostilities and/or access restrictions, except two schools housing IDPs in Qaboun.
South: Sporadic and intermittent clashes and shelling were reported in Yarmouk camp throughout the period, causing the suspension of food- parcel distributions. This is an increase from previous weeks. Qabr Essit camp and the surrounding areas were calm throughout the period, continuing the reduction in hostilities from the previous reporting period. Sporadic clashes and shelling was reported in areas surrounding but not within Sbeineh, a slight decrease from the previous report. Ramadan remained relatively calm, as in previous weeks. Mostly sporadic and sometimes intermittent shelling continued throughout in Douma, showing the same levels as previous weeks.
Yarmouk and Sbeineh remain sealed off with access blocked by the security forces. Less than 30 per cent of Yarmouk residents remain and less than 5 per cent in Sbeineh, with armed opposition elements present in both. An unconfirmed 8 PR were killed in Yarmouk as a result of medical conditions and shelling, the same level as the previous report. There are continuing unconfirmed social-media reports of PR dying due to malnutrition and lack of services.
Southwest: Varying intermittent and sporadic hostilities continued in Darayya, reportedly including some airstrikes. Hostilities remained significantly reduced in Moadhamiyeh, which remained calm and accessible. Khan Eshieh was relatively calm, but with mostly sporadic and sometimes intermittent clashes and shelling in surrounding areas. A number of shells reportedly impacted in the camp, injuring a number of PR, but no PR were killed. Overall hostilities were a slight increase from the previous report.
Aleppo: Sporadic shelling was reported throughout the period, a slight decrease from previous weeks. The area office and facilities remained operational as usual. Ein El Tal: No direct contact was possible with anyone in the camp, as in previous weeks. The camp presumably remains occupied by armed opposition groups, and the number of PR in the camp presumably remains very low. Social-media reports claimed the camp may have been shelled. Neirab camp remained relatively calm for all of the reporting period, with all facilities operational, as in previous weeks.
Dera’a: Sporadic and intensive clashes and shelling were reported in the vicinity of the camp early in the period for a number of days, but the camp remained calm with all facilities operational. This is a reduction from previous weeks.
Mzerieb: Relatively calm throughout the period, which is a large reduction from the previous report. A health centre that had been damaged in a previous incident was burgled, although items stolen were later retrieved. Jillien remained calm for the reporting period, as in previous weeks.
Homs: Remaind relatively calm most days, with sporadic shelling at night and a number of mortars reported, somewhat lower levels of hostilities than previous weeks. Homs camp remained relatively calm, with all facilities operational, as in previous weeks. A disgruntled PR damaged an UNRWA vehicle and there were unconfirmed reports that a PR child was hit with a stray bullet while exiting a school. Hama camp remained relatively calm, with all facilities operational, as in previous weeks. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was reported at the southern entrance of Hama city, reportedly causing civilian but not PR casualties and deaths. Latakia remained calm, with all facilities operational, as in previous weeks.
The number of displaced PR and Syrian IDPs in UNRWA facilities in Syria increased from the previous report, Issue 71, by 126. The only increase was in Khan Dunoun camp (+176). There was a decrease in Hama camp (-19), Aleppo IDP shelter was closed (-21) because the IDPs returned home and there was a small decrease in the camps in Rukn Eddin (-10).