• In the northwest of the country, UNICEF response comes against the backdrop of deteriorating humanitarian situation and recent upscale in violence that resulted in human fatalities, high displacements of population and destruction of several infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water facilities. In August, UNICEF continued to deliver services and programs, especially in Idleb and Aleppo (where more than 230,000 people have been reached with WASH assistance during the reporting period) and along the displacement routes through mobile and rapid response teams.
• In the northeast of the country, UNICEF continued the provision of multi-sectoral assistance for the affected populations, including those living in camps; in Al Hol, which hosts some 68,000 people (mainly women and children), UNICEF continued to provide support with targeted nutrition, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and child protection interventions. Also, 30,273 summer clothing kits were distributed in the camp.
• UNICEF scaled-up the humanitarian response to address the needs of the population living in the South of the country, including displaced populations, returnees and host communities. Also,
UNICEF participated in a joint Inter-Agency cross-line UN and Syria Arab Red Crescent assessment mission to Rukban: Out of 12,714 people registered, 37 per cent were willing to leave the camp, 47 per cent willing to stay, and the others were indecisive.
• Overall, the 2019 Humanitarian Action for Children for the Whole of Syria response remains critically underfunded (funding gap currently at 53 per cent against the US$294.8 million requirement). Additional funding is needed to ensure that children through Syria continue to receive the needed life-saving humanitarian assistance.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs:
In northwestern Syria the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as the most recent upscale in violence is set to enter its fourth month. Between late April and end of August, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has documented the killing of more than 500 civilians while information provided by local sources indicates that as of 23 August, more than 1,000 civilians may have been killed, including some 180 children and 145 women1 . As a result of the hostilities, between 1 May and 18 August, 576,000 people were displaced as reported by the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster; of these, 72,033 displacements were recorded during the month of August alone. Displaced people remain mainly sheltered in northern districts of Idleb, along the border with Turkey which remains closed. The widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, such as homes, IDP settlements, bakeries, markets, hospitals, schools and water stations, adds to the suffering of civilians in northwest Syria.
Since late April, at least 43 incidents impacting health facilities or personnel in northwest Syria have been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and 87 incidents of educational facilities being damaged or destroyed have been verified by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) during this same period. UNICEF-supported immunization centres have been also affected as 14 centres suspended operations out of the total 98 centres. It has been estimated that over half the school-aged population of Idleb is at risk of being out of school with the new school year.
Moreover, several water stations were reportedly damaged or destroyed by airstrikes or shelling, disrupting access to clean water and education for over 250,000 children. The month of August also witnessed an increase in improvised explosive devices (IED) incidents in northern Aleppo and Idleb; UNICEF continued to deliver services and programs in safe locations in Idleb and Aleppo and along the displacement routes through mobile and rapid response teams. However, additional funding is urgently required to maintain and scale-up the current levels of emergency response in the coming weeks and months.
The humanitarian situation remains complex and fluid in southern Syria where tensions continue to mount. Overall, around 970,275 people are in need of humanitarian assistance across As Sweida, Dar’a and Quneitra governorates2 . High density of displacement and return overburdens communities and local services in poor condition. Southern Syria continues to experience population movement: 123,0003 spontaneous IDP returns have been reported since the beginning of 2018 – 11 per cent of the overall total returns– placing additional strain on what are already limited and partially functioning basic services. In response, the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF) has allocated US$25 million as a standard allocation to support critical, continued activities in underserved areas of Dar’a, Quneitra and Rural Damascus, where there is a high concentration of IDPs and returnees. In the past five months, and despite a further deterioration of the area’s stability, some 720,000 people in need have been reached at least once with some form of humanitarian assistance in southern Syria. From 17 to 23 August, UNICEF participated to a joint Inter-Agency cross-line UN and Syria Arab Red Crescent (SARC) assessment mission to Rukban (with a focus on determining the number of people present and the number wishing to be voluntarily moved to Homs Governorate based on free and informed choices). The mission included the registration of people on a voluntary basis as well as the holding sector specific focus group discussions with various groups including women, youth, community leaders and most vulnerable groups to ascertain their humanitarian needs. By the time of the assessment, 12,714 people were registered in Rukban; 52 per cent being male and 48 per cent female. Fifty per cent are children are under 18. Preliminary results of the assessment indicated that 37 per cent were willing to leave the camp, 47 per cent were willing to stay, and the others were indecisive.
The humanitarian situation in Rukban remains critical, with food remaining the highest priority need reported by the community (followed closely by needs related to health services and safe water). Based on the assessment findings a humanitarian assistance convoy has been scheduled for early September.
In the northeast of the country, after months of discussions between the US and Turkish authorities, an agreement was reached by the two parties in early August. Accordingly, a safe zone/security mechanism would be established all along the Turkish border to be patrolled and managed by a joint operation center. The most likely scenario suggests 68,000 individuals could be displaced from areas along segments of the border further inland into neighboring host communities. The current population of IDPs residing in IDP sites (camps) across northeast Syria stands at approximately 109,000 individuals; the largest site in the northeast is the Al Hol camp in Al-Hassakeh, which currently hosts 68,600 people; about 40 per cent of them are Syrians, 45 per cent Iraqis and 15 per cent other foreign nationals. Over 94 per cent of the camp population is composed by women and children, of whom 67 per cent are under the age of 18. People in the camps remain fully dependent on humanitarian assistance. In Al Hol, UNICEF and other humanitarian partners are providing food, water, health care, shelter services, non-food items (NFI) supplies, including hygienic items as well as education and protection support.