Now in its seventh year, the conflict in Syria continues to be characterized by widespread violence resulting in death and destruction; internal displacement; and reports of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure. Civilians who have remained inside Syria continue to face significant humanitarian and protection needs. Of the estimated 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining inside Syria, over 95 per cent (418,000) are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance. Almost 254,000 are internally displaced, and an estimated 56,600 are trapped in hard-to-reach or inaccessible locations, such as Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem in Damascus; Ghouta in Rif Damascus; and Dera’a camp, Muzeirib and Jilien in southern Syria.
Over 120,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) have fled the country, including around 32,500 to Lebanon and 17,000 to Jordan. Many PRS in Lebanon and Jordan face a precarious and marginalized existence due to their uncertain legal status and limited social protection mechanisms, making them heavily reliant on UNRWA for their basic needs.
Within this complex and challenging operating environment, UNRWA will continue to adapt its interventions to ensure that it meets the essential needs of Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis. The Agency will draw on its existing structures, supply chains and capacities to ensure an effective and agile response to ongoing and evolving needs. As new areas inside Syria may become accessible during the year, spontaneous returns of Palestine refugees displaced within Syria are expected to increase, as observed in Sbeineh or Khan Eshieh camps in 2017. In 2018, UNRWA will sustain efforts to resume core services in areas of spontaneous return, provided that safe access is granted. More specifically, UNRWA will monitor the access situation in Yarmouk and Rif Damascus, Ein el Tal camp in Aleppo, and Dera’a camp and villages.
In 2017, US$ 411 million was required to cover the cost of emergency interventions; as of 21 November 2017, only US$ 178.3 million had been pledged, corresponding to 43.4 per cent of total funding requirements. With available funds, UNRWA was only able to implement four out of six planned rounds of cash and food assistance inside Syria and was unable to meet assistance targets in Lebanon. Livelihoods and vocational training targets were also not achieved across all fields.
In spite of these major challenges, throughout 2017 UNRWA continued to provide life-saving assistance and protection to over 450,000 Palestine refugees affected by the Syria crisis, including those inside Syria, as well as those in Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza. UNRWA distributed cash assistance to 410,157 Palestine refugees in Syria, of whom 52.5 per cent were women. In addition, more than 32,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) in Lebanon and some 16,000 PRS in Jordan received cash assistance. UNRWA also extended basic health and quality and inclusive education services to Palestine refugees inside Syria and those forced to flee. In total, over 47,000 Palestine refugees were enrolled in regular classes in UNRWA schools inside Syria, while over 5,200 PRS children in Lebanon and 1,361 PRS and Syrian children in Jordan were accommodated in Agency schools. Primary health care was provided through 15 UNRWA health centres (HCs), 11 health points (HPs) and one mobile health clinic inside Syria. Care was provided to PRS through 26 HCs and one HP in Lebanon and through 25 HCs and four mobile clinics in Jordan. UNRWA continued to strengthen the protection of Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan by responding to gender-based violence (GBV), child protection and general protection cases. The Agency delivered potable water, maintained sewerage networks and provided solid waste management in seven accessible camps out of the nine official camps in Syria. A similar range of assistance measures to improve the urban camp environment was implemented in Lebanon.
In 2018, UNRWA requires US$ 409 million for its humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. This response will be guided by the following three strategic priorities:
Strategic Priority 1: To preserve resilience through the provision of humanitarian assistance in the form of cash, food and relief items.
Strategic Priority 2: To contribute to a protective environment for Palestine refugees by maintaining access to basic services, including education; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and livelihoods, and promoting respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) through monitoring, reporting and advocacy.
Strategic Priority 3: To strengthen humanitarian capacity, coordination and management to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency programme delivery.
Activities described in this appeal are consistent with the priorities and interventions in the 2018 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP), and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2018-2019. They will be complemented by ongoing operations supported by the Agency’s Programme Budget, particularly in the areas of education and health.