Syria humanitarian updates Dec 2008
The humanitarian situation in Syria is still affected by two major disasters both manmade disaster (Refugees from Iraq) and natural disaster (The worst drought that hit Syria since four decades).
UNHCR continued its assistance operation for refugees from Iraq in cooperation with partner agencies in the sectors of food, education, health, psycho-social support and protection. Distribution of food and non-food items supplied by UNHCR and WFP for 175,000 refugeesended in November. This distribution was to cover a four month food ration from July to October and non-food items consisting of hygienic kits, sanitary materials for women and children. Regrettably there was a disruption in supply of rice, and some 47,677 individuals did not receive their rice ration. It is hoped that situation with rice supply will be resolved soonest. 13,346 families representing 38,234 individuals benefit from monthly financial assistance provided through the ATM cash cards. Heads of households receive approximately US$100 (SYP5000) per month, with an additional US$10 (SYP500) for each dependent.
In November UNHCR finalised formal partnership with the Ministry of Health and Higher Education. Under these new frames, state hospitals providing specialized medical care for Iraqi refugees will receive equipment, medical supplies to support their capacity to provide medical care to an increased number of patients. In addition, 148 Iraqi refugee students received scholarships to continue their education in universities of Syria.
Two more NGOs (Action Against Hunger, Spain and Terre des Hommes, Italy) signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, allowing them to start assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria. Up to now there are twelve international NGOs which are fully accredited to work with Iraqi refugees.
Al Tanf camp
Heavy rain on the night of 28 October resulted in flooding at the two camps for Palestinians from Iraq stranded at the Syrian-Iraqi borders, causing tents to be inundated. While UNHCR was able to send new tents, mattresses, plastic sheeting and blankets to Al Tanf on the next day, it is estimated that the tents of over 100 families were destroyed in Al Walid on the Iraqi side of the border, where assistance always takes longer to arrive.
In November, gravelling and levelling works were undertaken in Al Tanf camp in response to the site destruction caused by the flood.
UNRWA has established a tented school at al-Tanf and organizes educational support activities at al-Hol, has provided technical training for Tanf and al-Hol youth in Damascus during the summer, provides dental, physiotherapy and various social and relief services to the refugees at the two mentioned camps. Regarding the refugees who have entered Syria in an irregular manner, UNRWA provides for education, health and relief services. In addition, a Child Friendly Space has been established in cooperation with UNICEF for refugee children in the Damascus area. Palestinian refugees from Iraq also benefit from the Agency's social services at the community centres.