Throughout December 2014, Yarmouk and its surrounding areas have seen a serious escalation in armed conflict, with frequent exchanges of fire and use of heavy weapons including by groups inside Yarmouk. The risks faced by UNRWA distribution staff and refugees attempting to collect assistance have increased considerably. As a result, UNRWA was only able to provide successful distribution and health provision on three days between 1 and 31 December. Approximately 400 food parcels are required each day to meet the minimum food needs of this extremely vulnerable population. In December, only 636 food parcels, 635 hygiene kits, 629 jerry cans (plus water), and 4,000 polio vaccines have been distributed in total. A total of 280 patients have been treated at Yarmouk's temporary health point, compared to many thousands in previous months.

Humanitarian Response


The third round of cash assistance commenced in September 2014 was finalized in early December. From September to December, cash assistance was provided to 470,382 persons (118,775 families). Thirty distribution points are operational across the country, including hard to reach locations, enabling refugees to access humanitarian assistance even in locations where physical access is not possible. A recent evaluation of the cash assistance programme found that refugees spend a combined total of 71% of their cash assistance on rent and food alone, emphasising the utmost criticality of this type of assistance.


he fourth round of food distribution, which started in September, continued throughout December, Reaching more than 217,296 persons (58,604 families) in the Damascus area alone. Outside Damascys, food assistance was provided to 1,326 persons (663 families) in Homs and to 4,568 persons (1,386 families) in Dera'a. Despite the regular distribution of food and cash assistance to over 470,000 conflict-affected Palestine refugees in 2014, food insecurity remains one of the most critical humanitarian concerns for Palestine refugees in Syria, aggravated by a context of protracted conflict, inflation, collapsed agricultural production and prevalent drought-like conditions throughout the country.


UNRWA resumed its winterisation campaign in December by distributing 2,155 mattresses and 41,681 blankets through distribution centres in Damascus and Sweida in addition to the collective shelters. In collective shelters, 938 diaper packs and 2,564 sanitary towel packs were distributed to displaced refugees through collective shelters and distribution points across Syria.


UNRWA continues to operate 42 of its own schools and has established 43 additional schools in Ministry of Education facilities, mitigating the closure of UNRWA schools due to damage or insecurity. An average of 40,000 students have been attending regular classes since the new academic year began in September.

UNRWA's vocational training courses continue to be provided in Damascus and Dera'a, with more than 1,100 graduates over the course of 2014. 250 students are currently taking courses through an e-learning portal, and courses have been adapted to meet new needs and a shrinking jobs market due to the crisis.


Iln the Damascus area, temporary collective centres are hosting over 6,600 persons in UNRWA installations and 5,460 persons in non-UNRWA installations. 1,806 persons (452 families) are staying in UNRWA and non-UNRWA installations in Aleppo, Latakia and Hama. 139 newborn infants – many of whom were born in the collective centres – currently live in the centres, in addition to 158 persons with disabilities and 7 unaccompanied children. UNRWA provides regular health and social services, maintenance and upgrading of WASH facilities, two meals per day and basic hygiene items to refugees in collective centers . In December, over 26,000 hot meals were provided.


UNRWA provides hygiene kits to collective shelters and the besieged area of Yarmouk. In December, the Agency distributed a total of 3,401 hygiene kits, including 635 kits inside Yarmouk and 2,766 kits inside collective shelters in Damascus. Each hygiene kit provides enough soap, shampoo, disinfectant, washing detergent and other sanitary items to last a family of four for one month. UNRWA also conducts regular maintenance, garbage collection, plumbing and sanitation works, including rehabilitation and upgrades, for all 37 collective shelters, 42 operational UNRWA schools, 14 health centres and 11 health points.


UNRWA continued to provide health services to 480,000 Palestine refugees Damascus, Aleppo, Dera'a, Homs, Hama and Latakia in December, with approximately 650,000 individual consultations in the month. The emergency health point in Yarmouk was able to receive patients on three days only during December, serving only 280 patients. During this period, 4,000 polio vaccines were provided to the Palestine Red Crescent Society to vaccinate children remaining in Yarmouk. The Agency currently operates 14 health centers and 12 health points across Syria.

Date: 25 Jan 2015

Sources: Palestine refugees [UNRWA]

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