In the beginning of the ninth year of the crisis in Syria, emergencies continue, with thousands of people fleeing Hajin enclave in North-East Syria, where UNHCR is in Al Hol camp providing core relief items, shelter and protection support to the newly arrivals.
At the same time the UN team in Syria plans the biggest humanitarian aid convoy to reach to the people in need in the South, namely in the makeshift camp in Rukban. While the convoy will provide critical humanitarian assistance to people in Rukban, the United Nations also recognizes that a dignified solution, enabling people at the site to decide voluntarily and safely how to return to normal life in a place of their choosing is urgently required.
In 2019, UNHCR will continue to provide humanitarian assistance and protection services to the most vulnerable IDPs, host communities, returnees and other crisisaffected populations in all areas where humanitarian access exists.
UNHCR Syria strategic directions for 2019
Humanitarian needs in Syria remain staggering in terms of scale, severity and complexity, with significant protection risks persisting in a number of areas. A total of 11.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million people that are internally displaced. Some 5 million people are in acute need due to a convergence of vulnerabilities resulting from displacement, exposure to hostilities and limited access to basic goods and services. The UN estimates there are an estimated 1.16 million people in need living in hard-to-reach locations. By end of 2018, 1.6 million people had moved crossed Syria.
UNHCR’s action in 2019 will continue to contribute to the strategic objectives of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to provide life-saving assistance, mitigate protection risks and respond to protection needs, improve self-reliance, livelihoods and access to basic services, and prepare for the shift towards returns.
UNHCR will continue to deliver on these objectives through five key components as described below;
1) Provision of emergency life-saving assistance to IDPs (emergency response to new displacements such as North-East Syria, Rukban and Idlib);
2) IDP protection and assistance to support over 6 million IDPs and equally vulnerable host communities;
3) Refugee protection and assistance to some 46,000 refugees and asylum seekers who continue to need support;
4) Winterization support, will be delivered from September through March. 788,339 IDPs, returnees and host communities were provided winter items by end of December, and UNHCR is planning to reach 1,250,000 by March 2019;
5) Preparing for returns and providing community based protection services and assistance support to returnees, mostly IDPs but also spontaneous refugee returnees, through community-based assistance. In 2018, 1.4 million IDPs and 56,047 Syrian refugees returned. UNHCR will continue in 2019, to ensure that returns is included in the HRP and that resources are allocated to respond to immediate and urgent humanitarian needs of returning IDPs and refugees.
I. Emergency Response Response to emergency in North-East Syria
Since the beginning of December 2018, approximately 25,000 individuals arrived from Hajin to Al-Hol camp.
At least 29 children have passed away on the way to the camp, or shortly after arrival due to malnutrition or acute respiratory infections. The situation in the camp is dire, with people being housed in the communal kitchens, schools, and child friendly spaces. As for the capacity, there are now 32,000 individuals in Al-Hol, where a total of 35,000 individuals can be hosted. UNHCR and its partners are also assessing the possibility of hosting the additional arrivals in Mabrouka camp.
With the increase of number of arrivals to Al Hol over the past weeks, the reception areas are now overcrowded. UNHCR and partners have set up a 24 hour response teams to receive the newly displaced people, quickly identify the most vulnerable cases and provide urgent assistance, especially to unaccompanied or separated children and those who require immediate medical assistance.
A number of emergency measures have been put in place in Al Hol, particularly in the reception and screening areas of the camp. Additional large size tents were set up as immediate shelter for new arrivals,
UNHCR, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners also opened child friendly spaces, schools and communal kitchens for the new arrivals, so that people do not remain out in the open air till they can move to a tent of their own. UNHCR with partners have installed more than 4,500 tents and 3,600 are ready to be installed. UNHCR teams have assisted the newly arrivals with more than 23,000 with core relief items and winter assistance.