Palestine refugees in Syria continue to face severe and multiple needs as a consequence of nine years of conflict and associated hardship. This has resulted in extensive casualties, largescale and protracted displacement, destruction of civilian infrastructure, a decrease in the provision of public services and the devastation of the economy. Household resilience and coping capacities continue to be severely undermined by rising inflation, increases in the price of basic commodities, destruction or damage of homes and infrastructure and limited livelihood opportunities. Palestine refugees remain heavily reliant on UNRWA emergency assistance to meet their most basic needs. Ein el Tal, Dera’a and Yarmouk camps, where previously more than 30 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria were registered, have been largely destroyed, leaving many Palestine refugees in a situation of protracted displacement, unable to return to their homes, burdened with additional expenses and confronted with persistent humanitarian and protection needs.
Many of the Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) who have fled the country and are currently in Lebanon and Jordan, continue to face a precarious and marginalized existence due to their uncertain legal status and limited social protection mechanisms, with very limited access to basic services other than the assistance provided by UNRWA. Deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, constrained employment opportunities and increased costs of living experienced both in Lebanon and Jordan over the past years have increased the vulnerability of PRS families, and stretched coping mechanisms even further.
In 2020, UNRWA will continue to support Palestine refugees affected by the protracted crisis through providing relief assistance and ensuring access to essential education and health services. Drawing on its existing structures, supply chains and capacities, the Agency will continue to adapt its interventions to respond to ongoing and evolving needs in an effective and agile manner. In Syria, it is expected that the spontaneous return of Palestine refugees from within and outside the country will continue in areas that experience relative calm and where basic infrastructure is rehabilitated, as observed in Sbeineh and Khan Eshieh camps in recent years. In 2020, UNRWA will increase its efforts to rehabilitate its facilities and restore its services in areas of spontaneous return, including in Dera’a, where small scale returns have been observed in 2019.
In 2019, US$ 277 million was needed to cover the costs of emergency interventions in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; however, as of 31 October 2019, only US$ 78.6 million had been pledged, corresponding to 28 per cent of total funding requirements. Operations inside Syria were disproportionately affected by underfunding, forcing the Agency to scale down its operations particularly in the areas of cash assistance, livelihoods and vocational training, as well as mental health and psychosocial support activities. In Lebanon and Jordan, the Agency was able to maintain the provision of basic services such as cash assistance, education and health to PRS mainly through the availability of earmarked grants. However, in Lebanon, lack of funding limited the Agency’s ability to provide employment support services to vulnerable PRS youth and constrained the implementation of maintenance works on facilities serving PRS. In Jordan, due to funding shortfalls, the Agency could not support the provision of WASH services to PRS in King Abdullah Park (KAP).
In this context, ensuring predictable and sufficient funding to the UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal in 2020 will be essential to maintain the provision of relief assistance and basic services to Palestine refugees in Syria and to PRS in Lebanon and Jordan. Cash assistance will remain a priority in the three countries of operation. In Syria and Jordan, UNRWA will continue to provide cash assistance through a targeted approach prioritizing most vulnerable families, who will continue to receive a higher social transfer, while the remainder will receive a reduced amount of assistance. In Lebanon, cash assistance will continue to be provided through a universal approach given the high levels of vulnerability and dependency across the PRS community. The Agency also plans to update a socio-economic survey of PRS in Lebanon to better understand their vulnerabilities and adjust its operations accordingly.
Under this Emergency Appeal, UNRWA will continue to seek funding to ensure the provision of essential services such as education, health and WASH services in camps. Critical protection services will also be maintained for Palestine refugees in Syria and PRS in Lebanon and Jordan. Livelihoods and vocational training opportunities, with a focus on Palestine refugee youth, will be provided in Syria and in Lebanon depending on the availability of funds.
In 2020, UNRWA requires US$ 270 million for its humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. This response will be guided by the following strategic priorities:
Strategic Priority 1: To preserve resilience through the provision of humanitarian assistance ensuring that the most vulnerable Palestine refugees meet their basic needs.
Strategic Priority 2: To contribute to a protective environment for Palestine refugees by maintaining access to basic services including education; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and livelihoods; and protection.
Strategic Priority 3: To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency programme delivery through strengthened humanitarian capacity, coordination and management.