Sustained hostilities in south-west Syria since 17 June and rapid advances by the Government of Syria (GoS) army have led to the displacement of an estimated 285,000 – 325,000 individuals as of 4 July. Of those, up to 189,000 IDPs have moved to areas in close proximity to the Golan Heights and up to 59,000 individuals were displaced to areas near the Al-Nasib border crossing with Jordan.
The living conditions of IDPs stranded in the two border areas are extremely difficult, as they lack adequate shelter, sanitation facilities, basic assistance and access to services. Up to 70 per cent of those close to the Golan Heights area are reported to be without shelter, exposed to dusty desert winds and high temperatures. Against this backdrop, the Government of Jordan and the Government of Israel have announced that they will not admit any further Syrian refugees into their respective countries.
Despite sustained hostilities, access constraints and reduced partner capacity on the ground, the United Nations and partners continue to provide life-saving assistance to thousands of IDPs and stand ready to further scale up their operations. This requires that all responsible parties facilitate safe and unimpeded access to people in need, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
up to 325,000 people displaced in southwestern Syria
up to 248,000 IDPs located at the Jordanian border and in close proximity to the Golan Heights
123,545 people received monthly food rations under the second line IDP response (24,709 households)
37.8 tons of medical supplies and medicines have been provided/ are in process of being provided
Since the start of military operations in south-west Syria, the UN continues to receive reports of civilian deaths, and alleged indiscriminate attacks on health facilities, schools and NGO offices. This includes reports that on 30 June, air strikes hit a school in the Ghasam area of eastern Dar’a where many IDPs were reportedly sheltered, allegedly killing nine civilians, including three women.
The sustained violence in south-west Syria has further resulted in the displacement of some 285,000 - 325,000 individuals since 17 June. Of those, up to 189,000 IDPs have moved to areas in immediate proximity to the Golan Heights and up to 59,000 displaced to areas in close proximity to the Al-Nasib border crossing with Jordan. Close to half of those displaced to the Jordanian border are estimated to be children. While the Government of Jordan has announced on 3 July that they will open three border crossings for the dispatch of humanitarian assistance into Syria and the Government of Israel has reported to have sent some assistance towards the areas of displacement, both governments have announced that displaced Syrians will not be permitted to cross into their respective countries.
The living conditions of IDPs stranded in the two border areas are extremely difficult, with IDPs lacking adequate shelter, WASH facilities and sufficient amounts of basic assistance, particularly health. Up to 70 per cent of IDPs close to the Golan Heights area are reported to be without shelter, leaving them exposed to harsh weather conditions, such as dusty desert winds and high temperatures. The situation close to the Jordanian border is similarly severe. The UN has received reports of up to 15 deaths close to the Jordanian border and one death in the Golan Heights area, due to scorpion bites, dehydration and diseases transmitted through contaminated water. While some critical medical cases have been able to seek treatment at medical facilities in Ramtha and Irbid in Jordan, casualty numbers are likely to increase unless humanitarian aid is rapidly scaled up, comprehensive medical services are provided and medical evacuation protocols are put in place to serve all IDPs in the southwest.
Medical needs due to conflict-related injuries are rapidly increasing, and current estimates using IDP figures, indicate that 36 to 44 per cent of pregnant women will require delivery services each day, of which six or seven per cent will require emergency obstetric care, such as caesarean sections.
The four GoS-established “corridors” through which individuals can move towards GoS-controlled areas remain intermittently open, following the evolving military operation. Initial estimates indicate that 15,000 to 20,000 people have reportedly crossed into GoS-held areas in Dar’a and As-Sweida governorates, with an additional corridor towards As-Sweida, Kharaba – Ora, opening for a few hours on 4 July. Some 5,000 individuals are estimated to have returned to their areas of origin, that have since come under GoS control. UN agencies and partners are providing support to SARC to respond to the needs of IDPs at the corridors and at temporary shelters/ sites, mainly in Jbab in Dar’a and Rssas in Sweida. This assistance includes health, WASH, food, shelter and other core relief items as well as protection presence. Efforts to dispatch UN cross-line assistance, and to access areas that have shifted control are ongoing. The GoS is reportedly also providing some assistance.
The military escalation and the anticipation of protracted hostilities have led to price increases for some basic commodities, including food, fuel and gas. Fuel for hospital generators and mobile medical units is currently scarce and sells at three to four times the normal price in NSAG-controlled areas, limiting the capacity for the provision of health and water trucking services.
Sustained hostilities and mass displacement have also led to the increase of rental prices, further limiting shelter options for the displaced population.
Shelter, food, medical care and the provision of water and sanitation facilities remain the key needs for the displaced population. A UN rapid assessment at the Al-Nasib-Jaber border crossing between Syria and Jordan revealed that IDPs lack access to sanitation and basic water supplies. IDPs are forced to defecate in the open, which constitutes a public health risk as well as a protection risk, particularly for women. Additionally, the lack/loss of personal documentation is commonly reported and urgently needs to be addressed, as do many cases of family separation, with family members left behind in areas of active hostilities.
Compounding these urgent needs, the humanitarian response is hampered by access constraints and capacity gaps. These have particularly impacted local responders inside Syria, limiting their ability to access warehouses and people in need. Many humanitarian workers who used to provide services to people in need have themselves been displaced. In many cases, this has led to a partial or complete reduction of local capacity, with many partners forced to suspend operations. The delivery of cross-border assistance through the Ramtha crossing has also been impacted by ongoing hostilities and a lack of security guarantees from the parties to the conflict. The last convoy was dispatched on 25 June and the convoy scheduled for 27 June has since been postponed.
In response to the mass displacement, the United Nations, in cooperation with the Government of Jordan, dispatched interagency convoys loaded with life-saving assistance, including food, water, soap, sanitary items, shelter, and medical supplies and equipment. These have targeted tens of thousands of Syrians by the Jordanian border over the past few days. Additional items remain on standby in Jordan until the security situation allows delivery into south-west Syria.
Prior to the recent events and in anticipation of an escalation of hostilities, the United Nations prepositioned supplies and dispatched humanitarian assistance over the past two months. This allowed the United Nations to respond immediately to needs at the start of military escalation in south-western Syria.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.