Emergency Project - Providing Protection and Assistance to Uprooted Syrians
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Project location: SYRIA, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan And Egypt
Project start date: June 2013 - Project end date: June 2014
Project number: 2013-006
The current turmoil in Syria began in March 2011. Since then, more than 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes and country in search of safety in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees, led by UNHCR, was launched in December 2012 and anticipated that up to 1.1 million Syrian refugees could flee to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt by mid-2013. This number has been already passed at the beginning of March, while new refugees arrive at a rate of about 8.000 a day. In addition, at least 2.5 million displaced people remain in Syria, taking refuge with host families or in makeshift shelters. These are the most difficult to reach. Hundreds of thousands of refugees depend on UNHCR’s assistance and the goodwill of their hosts to survive. Despite the security challenges, UNHCR has managed to reach the north with supplies, and much-needed cash assistance is now reaching vulnerable families.
A major concern continues to be the weather. Winter has set in and refugees are crossing borders freezing cold, their clothing soaked and shoes covered in mud due to heavy rainfall. As at 26th April, UNHCR is helping 1.404.269 Syrian refugees. Of these, 1.191.775 have been registered, with the remaining awaiting registration. We expect more to continue coming forward as host communities become unable to support them. UNHCR need urgent support to meet the increasing needs in Syria and neighbouring countries.
Women and chidren are suffering
This crisis is affecting women and children in far greater numbers than usual. 3 out of every 4 refugees who have run from Syria are women & children, making this a highly vulnerable population. 1 in every five household is female-headed. Children, particularly those below the age of 5 years, can become very sick very fast when food becomes scarce, when they are without access to safe water and sanitation, and when they are weak from a hazardous journey. UNHCR and our partners are working to ensure that there is appropriate medical care and preventative health measures like immunization to prevent outbreaks of killer childhood illnesses which can thrive when children are brought together to live in close quarters. We are also working hard to try to assist with the psychological effects of this crisis. Many of those fleeing have also had horrific experiences en route to reach help, causing great trauma. Many have witnessed appalling violence and loss. It is vital that appropriate counseling help and play therapy is given to children urgently, by trained psycho-social workers, who can help them manage and make sense of what happened to them. How a child emerges from this traumatic period in their lives will play a large part in how they cope for the rest of their lives into adulthood. Equally, we are greatly concerned for huge numbers of women and girls who have fled and who need urgent shelter and protection to keep them safe from further violence and the risk of rape and sexual violence. This is an urgent priority for UNHCR.
More than one million of refugees depend on UNHCR’s assistance and the goodwill of their hosts to survive. Despite the security challenges, UNHCR has managed to reach the north with supplies, and much-needed cash assistance is now reaching vulnerable families. As at April 26th, UNHCR is helping 1.404.269 Syrian refugees. Of these, 1.191.775 have been registered, with the remaining awaiting registration. We expect more to continue coming forward as host communities become unable to support them. We need urgent support to meet the increasing needs in Syria and neighboring countries.
UNHCR is particularly taking care of women and children suffering in great numbers:
- UNHCR and our partners are working to ensure that there is appropriate medical care and preventative health measures like immunization to prevent outbreaks of killer childhood illnesses which can thrive when children are brought together in close quarters. We are also working hard to try to assist with the psychological effects of this crisis.
- Equally, UNHCR is greatly concerned for huge numbers of women and girls who have fled. This is an urgent priority for UNHCR: we are providing them with urgent shelter and protection to keep them safe from further violence and the risk of rape and sexual violence.
Main activities UNHCR is focusing on:
- Site planning and development of camps and other shelters;
- Installing prefabricated tents for winter;
- Upgrading refugee homes in urban areas;
- Providing winterisation kits for existing tents;
- Installing washing facilities and latrines;
- Providing counseling and special protection for children;
- Support for women who’ve experienced gender-based violence;
- Providing kerosene, jerry cans, kitchen sets;
- Distributing blankets and insulated sleeping mattresses;
- Providing winter clothes for refugees;
- Cash assistance grants for refugees to help with rent, heating and clothes bills;
Registration & Monitoring Refugees
- Training government officials at border points;
- Campaign on birth registration to ensure babies born to refugees are accounted for and can gain access to services
UNHCR is currently supporting the uprooted Syrian in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. Here are the main activities developed country by country since December 2012 (update at March 2013):
UNHCR remains most concerned for the estimated more than 2.5 million people that are displaced within Syria with little or no access to aid. Fighting continues unabated, and many people are forced to flee their homes and seek refuge with host families or in makeshift shelters. In the first week of February, UNHCR completed a first delivery of
winter emergency relief to the Azzas area of northern Syria where thousands of internally displaced people are living in makeshift camps. 3.000 tents and 15.000 blankets were airlifted from UNHCR's central warehouse in Copenhagen to a civilian airport near Latakia on the Syrian coast. From there, the supplies were transported by road in an eight-truck convoy to an area between Aleppo and the Syrian-Turkish border. The operation was only possible thanks to working in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for logistics support, and gaining agreement and facilitation from the Syrian government the Syrian National Coalition. This allowed the convoy to safely reach people in need, in a strictly humanitarian and non- political operation.
The total number of Syrian refugees has reached 448.370 on April 25th . An additional 55.000 are awaiting registration. The Government of Jordan estimates that there are 470.000 Syrians in the country. Za’atari camp in Jordan has been receiving a record number of refugees, with more than 30.000 arriving in January alone – double the number received in December. UNHCR staff are working day and night to respond to the new arrivals and the growing needs. Tens of thousands of tents and other relief items arrived at the end of January and the camp is now catering for more than 65.000 people. We have also been working with the government and partners to build a second major camp close by which will be known as Halabat camp. This will host 5.000 to begin with, with plans to increase capacity to 30.000. As well as providing supplies to help refugees cope with winter cold, UNHCR is focusing on medical care. In January, 7-10 babies were born a day in Za-atri camp, and sadly not all of them are surviving. Three hospitals, two intermediary health facilities, four primary health care facilities, with approximately 51 specialists and 70 nurses in place at Za'atri. All facilities have general practitioners and paramedics on site. In addition to the daily new arrivals at Za'atri who are registered in the camp, in Amman UNHCR staff are registering up to 1.400 people a day. A new registration centre in Irbid will open soon, further increasing our registration capacity. Increased registration and outreach is resulting in more vulnerable families being identified. UNHCR and International Relief and Development have conducted over 11.000 home visits across Jordan since April 2012. In January, 7.700 Syrian families received cash assistance in Jordan. These funds helped them pay rent, buy food, pay for heating fuel and essential items for their families. UNHCR is grateful for the strong financial support it has received so far and will continue to count on more support to offer urgently needed assistance to more vulnerable families.
On April 25th Over 444.045 Syrian refugees are currently receiving protection and assistance in Lebanon. An additional 113.309 are awaiting registration. The government of Lebanon estimates there are 1 million Syrians Syrian refugees in the country. This includes Syrian workers and their families and other Syrians of means who have not registered with UNHCR. Lebanon has remained very open to the arrival of refugees and continues to host them within communities, across 540 locations. UNHCR plans to expand a cash assistance programme using ATM cards to 30.000 Syrian refugees by March after the recent completion of a pilot programme for 200 families in northern Lebanon. The programme is aimed at benefiting the most vulnerable refugees as the money allowance will help them pay for daily living costs, including food, rent, transport, fuel and clothing, and thus help them to become more self-sufficient. Under the pilot programme, each family received a minimum of US $150 plus an additional US$25 per family member. Under the expanded programme in Tripoli and Akkar, families will receive an average of US$240 a month. We adjusted it upwards based on data gathered during the pilot exercise. Under an agreement with a local bank, the refugees can withdraw money using ATM cards. They have no obligation to repay the money, which will also help them contribute to the local economy – thus assisting the host community and enabling refugees to integrate more smoothly. The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees has helped push up prices and made life harder for all. Many families arrive in Lebanon with no financial resources while others have used up their savings. And unlike Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, there are no refugee camps, so we need to find other ways to provide support. Refugees in need of cash aid have been identified by UNHCR and its partners – field visits are a key part of this process, along with registration data. We have also increased our outreach work, liaised closely with local authorities and involved the communities who need our help.
The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has increased to 313.872 (April 26th). The Government of Turkey has begun the registration of Syrian refugees living in urban areas. On April 26th 280.687 Syrian refugees have been registered. Some 33.185 further Syrians are awaiting registration. The Government of Turkey estimates that there are 400.000 Syrians in the country. UNHCR has been mainly coordinating the supply of relief items such as tents, blankets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits. The camp at Akcakale has increased its capacity and is now hosting more than 90.000 refugees and providing them with shelter and essential supplies. Women & children currently make up 92% of the total number of refugees in Turkey. Families are worried that the tents will not withstand the cold winds and rains that are expected in the mountainous region of southern Turkey. Plastic tarpaulins have been provided so they can better protect themselves from the elements while waiting for improvements to shelter.
The total number of Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR has reached 137.657 (April 24th). The government continues to offer relatively easy access and UNHCR is continuing to support refugees in the three camps and in urban host communities. The border crossing at Al Qa’im has been closed since the end of October, following a period of restricted access. This may change if the camps at Al Qa’im can be expanded. The route to the refugee registration point runs along a marked minefield and so refugees – especially young children – are being educated on how to avoid landmines and keep close to safety.
Refugees have been entering Egypt, most of them now residing in the satellite city of 6 October, located on the outskirts of Cairo. On April 23rd 39.273 refugees have been registered so far. Some 11.000 further Syrians have been in contact with UNHCR to be registered, bringing the total number to over 50.000. The Goverment of Egypt estimates that there are 140.000 Syrians in the country. A community centre for Syrians living in ‘6 October’ City was launched by UNHCR in December in collaboration with Tadamon, a local organisation that deals with refugee issues. The centre aims to become a gathering venue for Syrian refugees in Egypt to exchange information, receive counselling, and organise social activities and workshops. The centre will also provide psychosocial support to both children and adults. "Many young children witnessed violent scenes before leaving Syria and girls heard stories about sexual violence as well," said Elizabeth Tan, deputy regional representative of UNHCR in Cairo. 42% of Syrian children in Egypt are suffering from exaggerated fear, 26% from lack of concentration, and 25% from sleeping problems and nightmares.
The Nando Peretti Faundation has awarded a grant for this project. Thanks to its supporters, UNHCR has been able to provide life-saving shelter, assistance and protection to thousands of Syrians displaced within their country, and to the refugees in neighbouring countries.
We need to step up our support so that we can assist the increasing numbers of people and families fleeing the conflict. Our main focus now is to cope with the increase in the numbers of people fleeing to help people survive the winter months. Children in particular are at high risk of acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
UNHCR is providing blankets, heaters, winter clothes and whatever else is needed to ensure families stay healthy and warm.
- In refugee camps, UNHCR is reinforcing tents and shelters to make them withstand the weather conditions. We are also providing some tougher, prefabricated tents.
- In urban areas, UNHCR is reinforcing communal shelters (spaces where refugees have congregated and are receiving support) and providing host families with support to ensure their homes are well heated and have adequate cooking and water and sanitation facilities. UNHCR is providing life-saving supplies such as sleeping bags, electric heaters and blankets. Cash assistance is also needed for the most vulnerable refugees in urban settings. Simple cash grants can help them to cover the costs of rent, heating and winter clothes. The amount offered varies depending on the country and the number of people in each family. Smaller grants are also offered to vulnerable families in host areas.
Considering the extremely seriousness of the situation of Syrian displaced people and refugees in neighboring countries, the scarcity of funds available and the expected increase of the numbers of uprooted people, UNHCR will devolve any single contribution received to the most urgent activity required among the ones described above, either in Syria or neighboring countries affected by the crisis.