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Syria: UNHCR Operational Update, January-March 2019

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As of end of March, UNHCR concluded its winterization programme with the distribution of 1,553,188 winterized items to 1,163,494 individuals/ 241,870 families in 13 governorates in Syria.

In February, UNHCR participated in the largest ever humanitarian convoy providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to some 40,000 displaced people at the Rukban ‘makeshift’ settlement in south-eastern Syria, on the border with Jordan.

Since December a major emergency in North East Syria led to thousands of people fleeing Hajin to Al-Hol camp. UNHCR is providing core relief items, shelter and protection support for the current population which exceeds 73,000 individuals.

Update on Achievements

Operational Context

In the ninth year of the crisis, the humanitarian needs in Syria remained staggering in terms of scale, severity and complexity, with protection risks persisting in a number of areas.
According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) 2019, 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. There are also 1.1 million people in need living in hard-to-reach locations. Major population movements took place in in 2018, where 1.6 million people moved across the country.

UNHCR has verified that at least 21,575 Syrian refugees in its database in Lebanon and Jordan have spontaneously returned to Syria by end of quarter one in 2019. The numbers of returnees that are not verifiable in UNHCR database are perceived to be higher. In 2018, 1.4 million displaced persons and 56,047 Syrian refugees returned. UNHCR was successful in 2018, in ensuring that return was included in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and resources were allocated to respond to immediate and urgent humanitarian needs of returning displaced persons and refugees.

In 2019, a major emergency situation occurred in North-East Syria leading to internal displacement and loss of lives of particularly children. UNHCR responded to this emergency through an inter-agency effort in providing life-saving assistance through its NFI/Shelter and protection programmes.