Published On: Fri, May 15th, 2015

Syria Regional Crisis Response Update 87

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 and humanitarian assistance. For a more detailed overview, see the Agency’s 2015 Syria regional crisis response here. This monthly update covers UNRWA efforts in April 2015.

Highlights

Since 1 April, Yarmouk has witnessed a dramatic escalation of violence that puts the lives of 18,000 Palestine and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, at great risk. On days when UNRWA conducts missions to the areas surrounding Yarmouk, daily situation reports are published here.

UNRWA has successfully broadened the humanitarian response for thousands of people displaced from Yarmouk to neighbouring Tadhamon, Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem. With the facilitation of Syrian authorities, UNRWA has delivered food parcels, clean water and fresh bread; field kitchens have prepared hot meals, and medical and dental teams have treated thousands of people. April 28 was a high point of these efforts. On that day, with the facilitation of Syrian authorities, United Nations humanitarian agencies combined their strengths with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to lead a 22-truck convoy to Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem. This significant expansion of the humanitarian response was a realization of the Framework which emerged from the three-day mission to Damascus of the Deputy Special Envoy and the UNRWA Commissioner-General.

UNRWA urgently calls on the international community to support its emergency relief effort, as outlined in this call for funds. With the generosity of donors, and in coordination with other humanitarian actors, UNRWA will provide emergency supplies, shelter and essential services for civilians caught in the violence in Yarmouk and other areas of Syria, for an initial period 90 days.

In Lebanon, the Palestiniadi games brought together Palestinian and Lebanese students to play games and sports. In preparation, with the support of the EU, UNRWA distributed sport suits to Palestine refugee students from Lebanon and Syria. The new Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Matthias Schmale, opened the event with the words: “Sport is an effective tool in building bridges between different communities and groups. As such, the Palestiniadi has all the components necessary to break down barriers and bring about social change.”

Regional overview

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. US$ 98.1 million, including US$ 9.6 million pledged in 2014 for implementation in 2015. This is equivalent to 23.6 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. Regional coordination focused on reporting on the RRP6 (the 2014 predecessor of 3RP) and on preparations for the third pledging conference in Kuwait. UNRWA will publish its report on the 2014 Syria Emergency Appeal this week.

Media. Media highlights included:

The escalation of violence in Yarmouk led headlines internationally, bringing a spotlight on the condition of Palestine refugees. UNRWA humanitarian efforts featured in a large number of news outlets. UNRWA video clips from Yalda aired on CNN and Al-Jazeera.
PRS in Lebanon featured in stories of instability in Ein El Hilweh, highlighting the limited options Palestine refugees face in Lebanon. The Guardian featured an interview with a Palestine refugee from Syria in Ein El Hilweh, who reflected on deaths in the Mediterranean, which dominated media in the second half of April.
More positive was regional press about the Palestiniadi held in Lebanon.

Syria

Approximately 560,000 Palestine refugees are registered with UNRWA in Syria. Of these, around 280,000 have been displaced inside Syria and over 80,000 to other countries.

Yarmouk. Yarmouk has witnessed a dramatic escalation of violence that continues to put the lives of 18,000 Palestine refugees and Syrians at risk of death and injury. In April, UNRWA had access to neighbouring areas to the east and southeast of Yarmouk, including Tadhamon, Babila, Beit Sahem and Yalda on 20 days, providing: 5,008 food parcels, 13,200 bundles of bread and 50,000 litres of potable water, as well as a range of NFIs. The mission also distributed Plumpy Doz nutritional supplements to families with children under five years old. UNRWA established a central kitchen, which serves up to 600 meals per day, in a collective shelter at Yalda. The Agency also supports a communal kitchen established in Babila, which serves up to 300 meals per day. A mobile dental unit was deployed on 28 April, the first such service in the area for over two years. Thirty-six patients were treated on the first day, including surgical procedures. UNRWA continued to provide health services and served over 2,200 patients since operations started in the area. Go to the UNRWA Yarmouk crisis page for the latest updates.

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