Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan face increasing humanitarian needs due to growing vulnerability and displacement from areas of armed conflict. Approximately 200,000 refugees are now internally displaced in Syria, 90 per cent of whom have been compelled to flee their homes in Damascus, and the number of Palestine refugees from Syria entering Lebanon and Jordan is now over 42,000 and 6,000 respectively. More than 400,000 refugees in Syria now require humanitarian assistance, with the number expected to rise further. UNRWA has distributed food and non-food items to more than 143,000 refugees and cash assistance to more than 220,000 refugees. More than 8,000 refugees are currently being provided shelter in UNRWA facilities, and many more are being hosted in refugee communities.
A slight easing in the intensity of armed conflict was reported in a few parts of the country this week, but at least three refugees were killed by clashes and shelling. Clashes and shelling continue in and around Yarmouk, Husseiniyeh, Sit Zeinab and Khan Eshieh Camp in Damascus, as well as Aleppo and the surrounding countryside.
The Health Department reports that during the first quarter of 2013, it provided 130,045 patient consultations. During the same period in 2012 the Department provided 244,164 consultations. These statistics are an indication of the fact that many UNRWA clinics are inaccessible to Palestine refugees on account of the conditions of conflict. UNRWA’s response includes putting in place new arrangements for refugees to access private clinics and government hospitals, and more generous reimbursement of refugees’ health expenses.
UNRWA schools continue to operate wherever possible, and this week an average of 24,453 out of 67,292 students attended regular classes. 48 out of 118 schools are open, with many schools closed across Damascus and in Ein el Tal Camp. Arrangements have been for UNRWA teachers to provide classes in 20 government schools to 11,385 refugee students during the afternoon shift.
UNRWA facilities and property continue to sustain damage. One school in Yarmouk was hit by shelling and an UNRWA minibus was hit by stray gunfire this week, resulting in minor damage. In addition two Agency vehicles taken at gunpoint by armed groups. A total of 21 UNRWA vehicles are now missing. UNRWA staff face increasing challenges as they strive to maintain services to Palestine refugees. There are currently 13 staff missing, many presumed detained. Six staff are among the fatalities of the Syria conflict.