Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report

Highlights

  • Since the beginning of May, over 440,000 people (as of 14 July) have been displaced from northern Hama and southern Tets Idleb governorates.
  • An estimated 1.65 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Syria, one of the most complex humanitarian environments in the country.
  • The Al Hol camp population is at 70,097 individuals or 19,824 households, as of 26 June
  • According to Camp Administration, Iraqi authorities have issued a clearance for the return of more than 2,000 families from Al Hol to Iraq.
Young child in Syria
OCHA

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report

Key Figures

11.7
People in need of humanitarian assistance
5M
People in acute need of assistance
5.9M
Internally displaced people (as of April)
372,800
Population Movements (Jan-April 2019)
216,200
Returnees (Jan-April 2019)

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report

Funding

$3.3B
Required
$2.1B
Received
64%
Progress
FTS

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Contacts

David Swanson

Public Information Officer - OCHA Regional Office for the Syrian Crisis, Amman

Hedinn Halldorsson

Public Information Officer - OCHA Damascus

Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Analysis

Upsurge in violence endangers 3 million people in northwest

The United Nations continues to remain gravely concerned by the dramatic escalation of violence in northwest Syria which has resulted in over 400 civilians confirmed dead and hundreds of thousands of women, children and men displaced since the upsurge in violence began almost three months ago.

Ongoing clashes, shelling and air strikes, including the use of barrel bombs, continue unabated in Idleb, in western Aleppo and in northern Hama, damaging schools, hospitals, and other critical civilian infrastructure, while hindering humanitarian aid operations. 

Since the beginning of May, over 440,000 people (as of 14 July) have been displaced from northern Hama and southern Idleb governorates, many of them multiple times. Some have been displaced up to five times, while others have been displaced as many as ten.

Most of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently living outside camps and reception centres.  In Idleb alone, approximately 100 schools are now hosting displaced people. Camps for the displaced people are overcrowded, with many people forced to stay in the open air.

Entire towns and villages have reportedly emptied as residents fleeing their communities in search of safety. The majority of those fleeing have displaced within Idleb Governorate while a smaller number have moved into northern Aleppo Governorate.  About one third of all newly displaced are in camps or reception centres whereas about 200,000 people are living with host communities or in makeshift shelters.

The impact of the hostilities on civilian infrastructure continues to be severe as vital facilities such as hospitals, bakeries, schools and water pumping stations are damaged or destroyed by airstrikes and shelling. Since the recent escalation of violence at the end of April, at least 39 incidents involving health facilities or personnel have occurred, killing and injuring civilians, people in need of medical care and the staff who care for them. At least 50 schools have been damaged due to airstrikes and shelling. In July alone there have been at least 29 incidents affecting civilian/humanitarian infrastructure or humanitarian staff or humanitarian staff, including 8 health facilities, 4 schools, 3 IDP settlements, 5 bakeries, 3 markets, 3 water stations, 1 ambulance, and 2 mosques. Several humanitarian workers have also been killed. Reports of more schools, health facilities, and other infrastructure being impacted have been received so the figures are likely to increase.

In what could prove one of the deadliest days of all, at least 60 people reportedly lost their lives and hundreds more were injured following a succession of attacks and violence in three governorates, including Idleb, Hama and Aleppo, on 22 July. Of these, the singular worst attack was on a public market in the town of Ma’arat al-Nu’man in southern Idleb in which at least 39 people were killed, many of them women and children. 

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Analysis
Map of Recent Conflict

Upsurge in violence endangers 3 million people in northwest: Response efforts

The humanitarian community has a detailed operational plan in place to respond to the needs of up to 800,000 people affected by the violence in the northwest, including 700,000 people through cross-border operations from Turkey and 100,000 people in Government-controlled areas from Damascus.

With some 15,000 aid workers on the ground, humanitarians continue to respond to the needs of the people in the area. This includes vital services such as providing food assistance to newly displaced households, surging health services in areas that are receiving people, and providing emergency protection services.

Hundreds of thousands of people – both from host communities and the newly displaced individuals – receive critical assistance essential for their survival. Humanitarians on the ground plan to provide food assistance to 1.2 million people in July and provide health services to hundreds of people injured in the violence. Tens of thousands receive other services and support, such as schooling, non-food items, clean water, shelter, and emergency nutrition and protection services. However, all of these efforts are challenged by insecurity and the scale of needs.

While humanitarian needs in northwest Syria have increased, however, the aid community’s ability and capacity to respond is being eroded. The scale of displacement has outstripped previous contingency plans; with funding now an urgent concern.

To sustain current levels of response and ensure appropriate scale up of operations, humanitarian partners need US$242 million. Without further donor support, partners will not be able to scale up their operations and respond to both new and existing needs

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Background
Hospital Interior

Working to enhance humanitarian notification system

OCHA is enhancing its humanitarian notification system (or “deconfliction” mechanism) put in place in Syria in 2014. In an effort to maximize the added value of the system, OCHA is streamlining the process in consultation with humanitarian partners. This system has the potential to keep humanitarian staff and assets safe while providing assistance to vulnerable people.

Millions of people in Syria receive humanitarian assistance, many of whom rely on it almost completely for their wellbeing. The infrastructure to provide this is extensive – thousands of schools, hospitals, offices, warehouses, water points, and other facilities. It is also a massive logistical undertaking, with hundreds of deliveries and movements to support humanitarian programming each day. All of this takes place in an extremely volatile environment, with airstrikes, shelling, gunfire, and other violence affecting many parts of the country.

Rules concerning the protection of humanitarian facilities, personnel and movements in armed conflict are an integral part of international humanitarian law, which specifically sets out the obligations of parties to the conflict in relation to humanitarian work. To help support this and to help ensure that these activities are not interrupted or impacted by conflict, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)provides – with the consent of the organization – the locations of facilities or planned movements to parties to the conflict through a humanitarian notification (or “deconfliction”) mechanism. With this information, parties to the conflict can avoid impacting these locations with military activity. This is a measure used for operational safety in a number of conflicts in the world.

In Syria, a humanitarian notification system was set up in 2014. Since then notifications for over 1,000 locations have been sent to parties to the conflict, and hundreds of humanitarian movements. Participation in the system is voluntary and information about humanitarian facilities or movements are only shared with parties to the conflict based on the submission of a notification request by the humanitarian partner to OCHA.

Unfortunately, despite such notifications, a number of incidents have occurred when violence has impacted a facility or movement for which notification had been sent to parties to the conflict. Once the credibility of such incidents is ascertained, the parties to the conflict are officially informed and expected to conduct an investigation of the incident. In accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law, these incidents may amount to war crimes.

In 2018 and 2019, 12 notifications regarding violent incidents that impacted facilities or movements were provided to parties to the conflict. Most of these incidents affected health facilities, while some affected schools and humanitarian movements. Feedback from parties to the conflict on the results of their investigations into most of these incidents is still pending. In addition to these 12 incidents, information is being compiled about several other incidents which affected facilities or movements, which were previously declared through the system. Most of the reported incidents in 2019 occurred during the recent escalation of conflict in northwest Syria since the end of April.

The damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure, including that used by humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to millions of people, is a sadly pervasive feature of the conflict in Syria. The damage and destruction of this infrastructure is also potentially a violation of international humanitarian law, as is conflict activity that impedes its delivery. The humanitarian notification system is one tool to help avoid such incidents and continue providing assistance to people who urgently need it. Ultimately, what is needed for a humanitarian notification system to work is for Member States to live up to their obligations under international humanitarian law.

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Analysis
Woman holding child and OCHA officer
UNOCHA

Humanitarian needs persist across northeast

An estimated 1.65 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Syria, one of the most complex humanitarian environments in the country. Of these, 900,000 are considered acutely affected due to a combination of factors, including displacement, recurrent exposure to hostilities, and limited access to basic services such as safe water, education and healthcare.

In the first quarter of 2019, the UN and its humanitarian partners reached an average of 805,000 women, children and men across the northeast with some form of humanitarian assistance each month; over half of those in need.

This scale of response was made possible by leveraging various modalities of assistance, with nearly two thirds delivered by actors from within Syria and complemented by actors delivering cross-border assistance from Turkey.

Increasing needs and improved access over the past 12 months has triggered a scale up of the UN’s response efforts. Currently across the northeast, over 130 humanitarian actors are operational. In light of growing needs, plans are also underway to establish a UN hub in Deir-ez-Zour Governorate.

There are currently 605,000 IDPs in the northeast as a result of past and current military operations. Two out of every 10 displaced persons now live in an IDP site, including camps, as well as collective and last resort sites. Of these, 133,000 live in 57 sites, scattered across the governorates of Ar-Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zour and Al Hasakeh, as well as in districts in Aleppo Governorate. The largest site in the northeast is the Al Hol camp in Al Hasakeh, host to some 70,000 people, followed by Ein Issa (13,000 people) in Ar-Raqqa, Areesha (8,500 people) in Al Hasakeh and Abu Kashab (6,000 people) in Deir-ez-Zour. Those in IDP sites are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance.

To date, nearly half a million people (479,000 people) are believed to have returned spontaneously to their areas of origin in the region between January 2018 and April 2019. Mine risk education and clearance remains a critical need across the region, given the extensive explosive hazard contamination - an urgent priority given that spontaneous IDP returns are likely to increase in 2019.

On 23 June, some 300 people from Deir-ez-Zour left the Areesha camp, escorted by Security forces of the Kurdish Self-Administration and supported by tribal leaders in Deir-ez-Zour, towards their places of origin in Al Mayadin which is under government control. The majority of the population of Areesha camp is to be relocated in the coming weeks and months after the camp’s tents, communal area, toilets and other facilities were heavily damaged last winter. Severe floods resulted in the camp deemed unsafe. Ground preparation is already progressing on the new site. Some of the displaced families are expected to choose to stay in the old location while the majority has already relocated temporarily.

Relocation has also been underway since 24 June, for residents of the Twaiheneh informal settlement that are being offered to move to the Mahmoudli camp, both in Ar-Raqqa Governorate. Around 50 families are relocating per day, with the move expected to be finalized by the beginning of August. Improved services in Mahmoudli are expected to improve conditions for IDPs living at the site

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Feature
Camp in Al-Hol
UNOCHA

70,000 IDPs in Al-Hol battle summer heat

The UN and its humanitarian partners are working to address the extensive needs of tens of thousands of residents of the Al Hol camp in the northeast of Syria where stifling summer temperatures can reach as much as 50 degrees Celsius during the day.

To respond to the urgent needs of camp residents, 35 humanitarian organizations are providing food, water, health care, shelter services, NFI supplies, including hygienic items and education and protection support. Low purchasing power is a challenge and people continue to receive food assistance through ready-to-eat rations and food rations.

To help families access services, four desks have been set up to provide information about general services in the camp, process of returns and permissions to leave the camp. Families remain concerned about their missing male relatives, including children, having received limited information about their whereabouts. As for the detainees, camp administration officials state that information is not yet available and that coordination with high level entities is needed before the information is shared. A FAQ and map have been prepared to help families access information.

The three field hospitals in the camp are in need or technical and logistical support. As of mid-July, only two of the three hospitals perform surgeries. To scale-up efforts, a blood bank is being opened in Phase 1. The need for a quarantine for infectious diseases remains critical. Despite the fact that health services in the camp have improved, humanitarian agencies continue to rely on five hospitals, outside the camp, for referrals of critical cases. The limited number of ambulances and transport for emergency cases remains a major obstacle. Rising summer temperatures also pose a critical challenge. Waterborne disease and respiratory diseases, as well as cases of acute diarrhea, leishmaniasis and malnutrition have increased.

Over 1,800 people with disabilities remain in critical need of assistance, including assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes and crutches. There is also a need to expand comprehensive services for elderly persons to ensure that they are at the centre of the response. Efforts to improve overall living standards at the camp are underway. Enhanced illumination efforts are ongoing – including the procurement of 12,500 solar lamps to improve protection between tents, while rechargeable fans, mosquito nets and summer clothes for children are also being distributed to help the camp population combat the summer heat. Road construction, solar street lighting and other infrastructure services are also ongoing.

Since 26 June, the number of displaced people at Al Hol has decreased from 73,783 to 70,707 people (as of 18 July), due to the repatriation of third-country nationals and the return of hundreds of Syrian nationals to their areas of origin in Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor governorates following agreements with tribal leaders, including 196 Syrians who returned to their place of origin on 11 July. Iraq has cleared the repatriation of 2,000 out of 8,700 families, however, a return date has yet to decided . The absence of legal documentation among many Iraqi families also poses an obstacle for repatriation.

Over the past couple of months, humanitarian partners have been working to reorganize the camp to alleviate overcrowding in some phases and mitigate tensions between different groups. While relocation to Phases 6 and 8 continues, the pace has been slower than expected as a result of resident concerns over limited available services in these areas and familiarity with their current setting. Humanitarian agencies are currently working to expand services to meet needs and communicate the availability of these to residents. Humanitarian access to the annexes hosting some 11,000 foreign nationals, who are neither Iraqi nor Syrians, has slightly improved although remains limited, impacting in particular health and protection services.

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report
Analysis
Family
UNOCHA

Rukban’s population nearly halved as 17,000 leave

Over 17,000 internally displaced Syrians (as of 21 July), have now left Rukban along the southern border with Jordan, having lived in the remote location for years. That’s 41 per cent Rukban’s estimated population of 41,700.

Approximately 25,000 women, children and men remain in Rukban, for a number of reasons; there are now fewer vehicles to transport people to the crossing point since the more affluent have left, some might not afford the transport fee, protection concerns and fear of military conscription, as well as a general fear for their safety and hesitancy to enter government-controlled areas.

Since 2013, Rukban has served as an area for thousands of Syrians fleeing the war in the hope of seeking refuge in Jordan.

In recent months, however, the humanitarian situation for those remaining has become particularly dire, with limited access to basic health care and shortages of basic supplies such as flour, vegetables and bread. Over the past two years, only two humanitarian inter-agency convoys have reached Rukban: November 2018 and February 2019.

As of 21 July 2019, a total of 23 groups have left Rukban since 23 March, nearly half of them children. Lack of access for goods has led to severe conditions and a lack of food and baby formula, an increase in infant mortality, and more cases of severe diarrhea and hepatitis; resulting in increased pressure on residents to leave. Additional factors have added to the vulnerability of people in Rukban. Most trained education and health workers have left; lack of affiliation and belonging to the community and its leaders, and prices of vegetables and fuel have risen sharply with less transport options to and from Rukban and no official route to Rukban.

Of those people remaining, approximately 80 per cent are women and children who have been in Rukban for over two years. In the absence of regular humanitarian deliveries, the Rukban population has been able to sustain itself through commercial deliveries and supplies brought in through smuggling routes. However, in recent weeks even these have become a rarity as the population shrinks and fewer and fewer vehicles have been available to transport commodities to the area. This has resulted in sky-rocketing prices of staple food items, negative coping mechanisms and further protection concerns, as well as a further deterioration of health conditions.

The most durable solution, and the one that 83 percent of the residents of Rukban residents prefer, is the option to return to their area of origin.

The IDPs from Rukban arrange their own transport to the Al Waha crossing point, where they receive some basic services before being taken to Homs on government buses. They then spend approximately 24 hours in five collective shelters in Homs, receiving assistance from the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), in the form of blankets, hygiene and dignity kits, nutrition bars and health assistance. The UN is about to carry out its fourth visit to the shelters to monitor conditions – that have been deemed adequate after previous visits in past weeks.

Upon departure from the shelters, most IDPs settle in the Homs Governorate – either in Homs city or south and southeast of it - where they continue to be assisted by the UN through SARC. In terms of assistance, mobile health clinics have attended to hundreds of health cases, and more over 2,500 food parcels have been distributed to close to 2,000 families, as of 14 July. Outreach protection volunteers are carrying out visits to some of these families, while others are being assisted through existing community centers. An unspecified number have moved on to Ar-Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zor, Homs, Hama, and rural Damascus. Less than 500 people remain in the shelters – half of them men – while their status is being settled with authorities.

The UN is currently awaiting approval from the Government of Syria on an operational plan to assess needs inside Rukban, to assist with transport those remaining and who wish to leave voluntarily, and to provide humanitarian relief for those who decide to remain. The UN has for months advocated for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to Rukban and continues to do so.

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Syrian Arab Republic

Situation Report

Cluster Status

Protection

207
Unaccompanied/separated children reunified

Needs

  • By mid-June, at least 502 unaccompanied/separated children (UASC) had been identified, of whom 77 are still in interim care centers waiting for family tracing and reunification. Interim care arrangements – including fostering care in properly identified and trained families, both temporary and prolonged – remain urgent.

  • Emotional and well-being initiatives, safe spaces and spaces to play, education opportunities, more structured psychosocial support interventions and case management for the most complex cases remain in high demand. Some of the more specialized services are often not viable due to limited capacity.

  • While births and deaths are registered, the need for the restitution of confiscated civil status documentation is critical. Work on sorting and matching available documents is now complete. Only an estimated 30% of the total Iraqi population of 30,706, is in possession of valid documentation, and of those only half has a copy. The situation is even worse for Iraqi children. This constitutes an obstacle for families who may want to voluntarily return to Iraq, but some 2,000 Iraqi households have signed up for repatriation through the Government of Iraq. While their intention is preliminary, the possession of documentation is critical for their legal safety. In general, for all displaced populations, the complexity of some of the cases in terms of family relations, determination of lineage/paternity and nationality of newborns, add constraints to the loss and the confiscation.

  • Old persons and persons with disabilities are neglected, due to lack of qualified staff and sufficient resources to guarantee an adequate response, including at home-based care. Modalities of distribution and accessibility to facilities need attention. More needs to be done to improve mobility, including the provision of assistive devices, as well as outreach and inclusion. Assistance distribution, e.g. of tents, is not tailored to the needs of single persons.

  • The need for specialized services to address psychological distress caused by GBV as well as the need for reproductive health interventions is still present, despite the scaling up of Reproductive Health professional services. As the camp expands, focus needs to stay on the needs of women and girls; set-up of facilities, lighting and positioning of WASH facilities and selection of distribution sites. Overall, the importance of a robust intervention on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation remains paramount, both within humanitarian organizations as well as at inter-agency level.

Response

  • A total of 12 child protection partners are operational; three lead protection agencies, three Syria-based protection partners and five INGOs operating from NES and cross-border, meeting on a weekly basis for coordination.

  • Four Protection Information desks are now in the camp and mobile teams are operating in phases 6 and 8. Complaints and requests received are mainly about detained relatives, information on return procedures and receiving permissions to leave the camp as well as access to services, especially water provision. A FAQ and a map of services have been developed to ensure uniform answers. No procedures have been put in place by authorities to inform families about their detained relatives and procedures for return remain unclear. Sectoral Communication with Communities (CwC) efforts need to be strengthened and not rely on Protection actors alone.

  • Ethical principles for volunteers were developed and rolled out through a training of trainers. Efforts have been made to provide PSEA training to staff and partners. A local inter-agency coordination network was created to discuss ways to reinforce current efforts for preventive action against sexual abuse and exploitation. INGOs are planning to strengthen PSEA throughout the camp with additional sessions and a CBCM (Community based complaint mechanism). Three trainings have been conducted.

  • Mobile teams and 11 CFSs, including one in the annex hosting 3rd country nationals, are operating. Preparation for two new CFS’s in phase 4 and 7 is ongoing while two are planned in phases 6 and 8. Follow-up on unaccompanied and separated children remains a priority, while interim care arrangements are at full capacity. The capacity to accommodate UASC was strengthened by installing four prefabricated rooms and two shower units in two interim care centers. Training of caregivers continues, including foster families’ initiatives. At least 207 unaccompanied and separated children have been reunified to date. Coordination between leading agencies and partners has improved, with a complete registration of all children in two interim care centers for pursuing tracing/re-establishment of family links.

  • GBV mobile teams cover needs across the camp with awareness sessions, group and individual counselling, psychological first aid and referrals. Two Women and Girl Safe Spaces (WGSS) are in phases 3 and 4. Additional distributions of sanitary napkins and women dignity kits took place in June. GBV and Reproductive Health services are provided through mobile team in phase 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 along with the WGSS in phase 4.

  • In response to identified gaps, another GBV mainstreaming session has been organized, to be attended by WASH, Shelter/NFI, health, and food sector staff. Capacity building on GBV is also available to organizations.

  • An adolescent girls space is in place, providing life skills and literacy courses for girls who are not attending school.

Gaps

  • Some gaps and constraints previously identified are still present; e.g. lacking capacity of interim care for UASC; confiscation of personal documentation, language barriers and modalities of continuous access to the annex hosting 3rd country nationals to deliver standardized assistance across the camp.

  • A continuous need to strengthen protection presence and services remains. The most pressing needs are for professionals to carry out specialized interventions, such as PSS, CP and GBV case management, identification and addressing of disabilities. Foreseeing a prolonged and complex displacement situation, there is a need for professional staff, able to coach and mentor volunteers and set up intervention systems. This gap may be filled with an external surge and an increased overall humanitarian presence in Qamishli.

  • The current security posture, with defined slots of UN personnel from Qamishli able to enter the camp on any given day, makes coordination and interaction difficult at times.

  • In certain settings and with certain population profiles, addressing GBV or interacting with women and girls to raise awareness and sensitize on prevention and response has been complex due to traditional social norms. Using reproductive health as an entry point has proven to be the most effective way of overcoming barriers.

  • Absence of clear policy, further internal guidance in dealing with foreign caseloads – in a manner consistent with international law - including unaccompanied children in the specific context remains a major challenge.

  • Challenge of access to information, data protection and management issues.

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