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Syria: UNHCR Operational Update, December 2019

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As of end of November 2019, UNHCR Syria provided community-based protection to 1,549,861 displaced persons, returnees and host community members, including 281,653 individuals provided with legal assistance, 249,954 children with social and recreational activities in community centres, child-friendly spaces, schools and other outreach activities, 66,501 students with remedial and catch-up classes, and 207,735 individuals taking part in SGBV awareness sessions.

Meanwhile, 1,640,915 individuals received at least one core-relief item, 330,990 displaced persons, returnees and host community members benefited from UNHCR’s shelter activities, while 393,225 individuals were supported through UNHCR’s community-based health interventions, as well as 2,766 individuals benefited from the UNHCR’s livelihood programme.

UNHCR recorded 96,253 Syrian refugees having spontaneously returned between January and November 2019. An increase in selforganized returns of refugees in 2019 is expected. UNHCR will continue to respond to the needs of the displaced and refugee returnees with the same implemented community-based protection approach assisting internally displaced Syrians.

Update on Achievements

Operational Context

In the ninth year of the crisis, the humanitarian needs in Syria remained staggering in terms of scale, severity and complexity, with protection risks persisting in a number of areas.
According to OCHA, a total of 11.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.1 million people that are internally displaced. Some 5 million people are in acute need due to a convergence of vulnerabilities resulting from displacement, exposure to hostilities and limited access to basic goods and services. There are also 1.1 million people in need in hard-to-reach locations.
With the consolidation of government control and changing territorial landscape, there has been an increasing level and pace of return of IDPs and refugees. In 2018, 1.4 million IDPs found their way back home, while 56,000 refugees were verified as having returned. In 2019, a total of 96,253 refugees have returned, although these refugee return figures are likely to be higher. Moving UNHCR’s operational focus from emergency response to durable solutions continues to be a key priority for the operation throughout the year.
People are returning despite challenging circumstances, and the operation aims to provide initial support to returnees and vulnerable population through an area-based approach. It includes immediate shelter repair, legal aid/documentation, community-based protection, primary health, livelihoods and education. Increasing needs for support for returnees also require wider and more predictable humanitarian space for all actors.

Working in partnership

UNHCR continues to serve as the lead agency for the Protection, Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFIs) sectors for the response within Syria and coordinating the Whole of Syria response for protection. UNHCR led sectors include 74 Protection partners, 27 NFI partners and 26 Shelter partners. Due to the size of humanitarian operations in Syria, as well as the area-specific issues in different regions, various partners and different levels of access, for NFI and Shelter and Protection there are six sub-national coordination mechanisms: Aleppo, Damascus, Dar’a/As-Sweida, Homs, Qamishli and Tartous As of end of November, UNHCR has partnership agreements with 25 partners including six international NGOs, 17 national NGOs and two government entities (Ministry of Local Administration and Environment and Ministry of Higher Education). Out of 11 national partners that have submitted the Partnership Project with UNHCR for the clearance of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, 10 partners have received the approval so far.