Syria: Flash update on recent events - 18 October 2017

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 18 Oct 2017

This update provides a summary of recent displacement, along with developments from the UNHCR co-led Sector/Clusters of Protection, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) and Shelter/Non Food Items (SNFI).

KEY DISPLACEMENT STATISTICS (AS OF 10 OCTOBER 2017)

  • 996,436 displacements recorded by the CCCM Cluster in the last 12 months from affected areas of northern and southern Syria:

    • 922,664 displacements from affected areas of northern Syria, including Aleppo (331,582), Ar-Raqqa (312,717), Hama (143,224), Idleb (56,148), Homs (35,822), Deir-Ez-Zor (103,364), Al-Hassakeh (12,038), Lattakia (1,541) governorates, northern Syria. This includes around 24,500 new displacements recorded so far in October, with the majority (19,300) displaced from Deir-Ez-Zor Governorate.

    • 34,990 displacements from affected areas of Damascus, Rural Damascus, Sweida and Dar’a, south-western Syria.

CONTEXTUAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • On 17 October, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that they had completely taken Ar-Raqqa city from extremist groups. In a briefing to reporters yesterday, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary- General noted that the UN is not able to verify first-hand the situation in the city due to lack of access, but is aware of reports that much of the city has been destroyed due to the fighting. He noted that UN and partners are closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to deliver assistance to those in need as soon as access is granted and security conditions permit.

  • UN agencies and partners are already reaching 330,000 men, women and children across north-east Syria each month, including 56,000 people in around 50 temporary shelters and camps in Ar-Raqqa, Al-Hassakeh, Aleppo and Deir-Ez-Zor governorates.

  • According to media reports, on 17 October Syrian Government forces made further gains in Deir-Ez-Zor city, pushing into the remaining districts held by extremist groups.

  • In a statement (15 October), UNHCR condemned the multiple car bombs attack on 12 October at the Abu Fas checkpoint (located between Deir-Ez-Zor and Al-Hassakeh governorates). An estimated 40 individuals were killed and around 100 others were injured in the attack, which targeted the checkpoint when around 5,000 IDPs from Der-Ez-Zor had gathered to cross to safety.

  • On 15 October, a UN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) inter-agency convoy delivered humanitarian assistance for 1,500 people in the besieged area of Qaboun in Damascus. This is the first time that humanitarian partners have been able to access Qaboun since it was besieged in April 2016.

Protection

  • UNHCR and the Whole of Syria Protection Cluster released the 2018 Protection Needs Overview (PNO), which provides a detailed analysis of protection needs and priorities in communities inside Syria. Its aim is to support sectors and humanitarian actors in the development of their operational response strategies, plans and projects. Findings indicate a high level of needs for protection services for children, persons with disabilities and the older people, and civil documentation, while important gaps in other protection services are highlighted in certain governorates.

  • The PNO notes that grave violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law continue to be reported in areas affected by active hostilities in Syria, including targeting of civilians and indiscriminate attacks, while widespread contamination of explosive hazards still endangers the lives of civilians. Even in areas where there has been a reduction in hostilities, civilians suffer the effects of seven years of conflict: disintegration of community structures, safety nets and rule of law, proliferation of weapons, continuous strain on resources and high levels of trauma and psychological distress.

  • Geographical mapping demonstrates a high occurrence of several protection issues in areas that are currently affected by active hostilities, particularly Ar-Raqqa Governorate. Resorting to negative coping mechanisms, such as child labour or child marriage is frequent. Movement restrictions, issues related to the lack or loss of civil documentation, as well as Housing, Land and Property (HLP) concerns, constitute key protection challenges for the majority of assessed communities.