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UNICEF Whole of Syria Humanitarian Situation Report, July 2021

Situation Report
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• Heavy shelling and intensified clashes were reported in Dara’a Al Balad starting on 28 July following a month of tensions, displacing 24,000 people, including Palestinian refugees. Eight civilian deaths were reported, including four children (one girl and three boys). A hospital was also damaged. UNICEF and partners are providing health, nutrition, water, education and child protection interventions for children and families affected.

• July saw an increase in hostilities in northwest Syria. This escalation in fighting killed and injured at least 45 children in July alone. This includes six children killed in attacks on Idleb on 3 July and four children in the same family killed in Al-Qastoun town in Hama.

• One million people have been affected by the disruption of Alouk water station, further exacerbated by drought conditions and reduced water flows in the Euphrates River. The UN called for regular and unimpeded access to Alouk water station to ensure its operation without any further interruption.

• In 2021, UNICEF requires $330.8 million to provide lifesaving assistance to 9.1 million people (including 5.5 million children) across Syria according to the Humanitarian Action for Children. Of the funding required, $124.4 million is currently available, with a $206.4 million (62 per cent) gap.

Situation in Numbers

6,080,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance

13,400,000 people in need

6,700,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs)

2,565,766 children in difficult to access areas

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In 2021, UNICEF requires $330,826,575 to provide lifesaving assistance to 9.1 million people (including 5.5 million children) across Syria according to the Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC). Of the total funding requirements, $124,437,271 is currently available, with a $206,389,304 (62 per cent) gap. The HAC is being reviewed as part of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2021. Funding requirements for Social Protection (75 per cent), Child Protection (73 per cent) and Nutrition (69 per cent) remain particularly acute in addition to other sectors. This is expected to compromise the ability of UNICEF to respond to the consequences of the ongoing crisis, including a socio-economic crisis, high levels of food insecurity and rising children’s vulnerability, all expected to be exacerbated by the current drought conditions.

This year, the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States as well as ECHO, the Syria Humanitarian Fund and UNICEF national committees have generously contributed to ongoing UNICEF humanitarian response across Syria. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all public and private partners for this critical support.

UNICEF continued to lead the Water and Sanitation, Education, Nutrition Sectors/Clusters and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility and the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Group. Further, UNICEF also co-leads, together with World Vision International, the No Lost Generation Initiative, bringing together 39 UN and NGO partners to ensure the protection, education and development of Syrian children, adolescents and young people, within the umbrella of the Syria HRP and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Extension of cross-border and crossline assistance: On 9 July, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2585 extending the use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing point in northwest Syria (NW Syria) for 12 months, providing a lifeline for more than 3.4 million people in need, including some one million children. It also calls for a “substantive” UN report to be provided on aid access across the Syria-Turkish border at Bab al-Hawa, after six months, with a focus on “transparency in operations, and progress on cross-line access in meeting humanitarian needs”.

Dara’a Al-Balad: The conflict between the government allied forces with non-state armed groups in Dara’a Al-Balad neighbourhood (population: 56,000) started on 24 June, and also affected two adjacent camps, one hosting Palestinian refugees and the other IDPs from Quneitra. According to local sources, infrastructure and services are poor in Dara’a Al-Balad, with over 90 per cent of the neighbourhood damaged in clashes since 2011. While an agreement with the Dara’a Central Committee was reached on 24 July through Russian mediation, fighting resumed on 28 July. The heavy shelling and intensified ground clashes have displaced up to 24,000 people, including Palestinian refugees, and resulted in eight civilian deaths including one woman, one girl and three boys. A hospital was also damaged. The Jaber-Nassib border crossing was closed on 29 July by the Jordanian authorities. UNICEF and partners are providing health, nutrition, water, education and child protection interventions.

COVID-19: From the outset of the pandemic to date, 71,712 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Syria, including 3,415 deaths. This includes 18,814 cases (768 deaths) reported from northeast Syria (NE Syria) and 26,801 cases (727 deaths) from NW Syria. While confirmed cases remained low in July, concerning signs remains, such as highest positivity rates in As-Sweida (75 per cent), Tartous (65 per cent) and Homs (58 per cent).

Escalation of violence in NW Syria: July saw an increase in hostilities in NW Syria. This escalation in fighting killed and injured at least 45 children in July alone. This includes six children killed in attacks on Idleb and four children in the same family killed in Al-Qastoun Town in Hama. Intensive shelling and airstrikes have been reported in 35 villages in Jabal Al-Zawiya in southern Idleb, western Aleppo and al-Ghab Plain in northern Hama. The Response Coordination Group documented 791 violations of the 5 March ceasefire agreement since June. Nineteen service and medical facilities, camps and schools were reportedly affected by airstrikes, and 65 civilians were killed, including 29 children, 10 women and five humanitarian workers. More than 32,000 displacements took place towards Jarablus, Raju and Dana Sub-Districts.

Alouk water station: Severe interruptions have continued at Alouk water station since May, with a lack of access for technicians and insufficient electricity exacerbating the situation. The Alouk water station provides water directly for 460,000 people in NE Syria while up to one million people are impacted, including many families living in camps and informal settlements. Families are reported to be resorting to unsafe water sources to meet their critical needs. When the water station resumed operations on 30 July, it was with only 10 out of 30 submersible pumps and 4 out of 12 horizontal pumps, leading to limited quantities of drinking water reaching Al-Hasakeh City. The low functionality of pumps is largely attributed to concerns over the electricity supply.

A joint statement released by the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Imran Riza, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Muhannad Hadi and UNICEF Regional Director Ted Chaiban called for the resumption of water and electricity services and the protection of civilians’ access to water, and sanitation. This includes safe passage and regular and unimpeded access for technical and humanitarian personnel so that Alouk water station can operate without further interruption.

Drought conditions and reduced Euphrates River water flow in NE Syria: Water levels in the Euphrates River coming from Turkey into Syria have decreased from 500 to 214m3 since the start of the year. Within Government of Syria controlled areas of Deir-ez-Zor, 11 drinking water pumping stations (WPSs) are severely impacted with another 42 significantly impacted, including the main water source for Deir-ez-Zor City. See the WASH Sector section for details on the sector response.

Socioeconomic situation: The cost of the national standard food basket decreased by one per cent from May to June, though it remains 102 per cent higher than in June 2020. According to WFP, the decrease is due to greater government monitoring of market prices. As prices have increased, incomes have not: average household income was reported as 20 per cent below expenses, with families having to spend at least half of their income on food. Ninety per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and 50 per cent of the working-age population is unemployed