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Syrian Arab Republic: Dara’a Flash Update, Hostilities in Dara’a Governorate (As of 2 August 2021)

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SITUATION OVERVIEW

• On 28 July, heavy shelling and intensified ground clashes were reported in Dara’a Al-Balad neighborhood in Dara’a Governorate of southern Syria following weeks of growing tensions. According to OHCHR, the hostilities resulted in eight civilian deaths including one woman, one girl and three boys, and six injuries.

• As many as 24,000 people, including IDPs and Palestine refugees, have reportedly been displaced to Dara’a city and surrounding areas. The Dara’a national hospital was also hit by four mortar shells which destroyed one water tank that temporarily rendered the dialysis unit non-functional.

• Heavy clashes continued to be reported in Tafas, Mzeirib and Yadoudeh villages in western Dara’a on 30 July, with tensions also spilling over into other neighbouring areas such as Jasim and Ash-Shajara and Al-Hrak, Um AlMaiathen and Saida. One humanitarian partner was at the Saraya crossing to provide assistance to those in need until the afternoon of 29 July but reportedly pulled back staff due to insecurity.

• As of 30 July, two crossing roads in Sijneh and Saraya are officially closed, however Saraya crossing point is reportedly open to pedestrians. As of 2 August, reports indicate that some sporadic clashes and indirect artillery fire around Dara’a Al-Balad neighborhood continue. At the local level, multi-pronged efforts are ongoing to de-escalate tensions and avoid further hostilities.

• In response, humanitarian partners are providing emergency assistance to IDPs and affected communities in Dara’a city and surrounding areas, including ready-to-eat rations, medicines and health supplies, dignity kits, core relief items, and WASH, nutrition and protection support. Partners are continuing to implement existing programmes in other sub-districts across Dara’a Governorate where the security situation permits.

• The humanitarian community continues to advocate with all parties to facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance to all affected areas and communities, including Dara’a Al-Balad directly.

BACKGROUND

Approximately 55,000 people reside in Dar’a Al-Balad, an area of Dara’a city. The current clashes follow weeks of tensions in the area, the deployment of additional security personnel, and increased access restrictions, although general food distributions were completed for 39,000 people in mid-July. At this time, one road – Dar’a Al-Balad - Sijneh – remains open to civilian and commercial traffic and local markets and two bakeries are functional.

HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND RESPONSE

Approximately 24,000 people have been displaced from Dara’a Al-Balad. The majority are being hosted by the local community, however more than 700 people (an estimated 140 families) have settled in two collective shelters – That Al-Nitaqein (500) and Hettin (219) schools. A third collective shelter was identified in case required but is currently empty.

In response, humanitarian partners are providing multi-sectoral assistance including food, health, nutrition, WASH, S/NFI and protection support. On 31 July, WFP dispatched 1,500 RTE rations to Dara’a city, sufficient to cover the needs of 7,500 people for a period of a week. A further 1,000 RTEs will be sent in the coming days. In the Tishreen bakery located in the Palestine camp on the outskirts of Dara’a Al-Balad which WFP rehabilitated in early 2021, bread production is currently ongoing however the allocation of wheat flour has decreased to 1.5 to 2 MT from around 15 MT earlier in June. The reduction in wheat flour is to allow for increased production in the bakeries in Dara’a city where the demands are currently higher due to the influx of IDPs.

WHO has dispatched 7.6 MT of health supplies to Dara’a National Hospital (3.9 MT) and Dara’a Health Authority (3.7 MT). The items, which include medicines, surgical supplies and IV fluids, arrived in Dara’a on 2 August and are sufficient to cover around 63,400 treatments and 830 trauma cases. UNICEF has finalized plans to deliver 9.5 MT of health and nutrition supplies to the Dara’a Health Authority and local NGO partner Al-Birr on 3 August including 200 pediatric kits, 6 complete midwifery kits, 4 acute watery diarrhea kits, 400 cartons of high energy biscuits and 2,500 micronutrient powder sachets (for children). Since 28 July, UNICEF has supported two NGOs – Al Birr and the Syrian Family Planning Association – to conduct around 82 outpatient consultations for children and women. Al Birr has further supported surgeries for IDPs including five cesarean sections, two gynecological surgeries, 13 tonsillectomy surgeries and one hysterectomy surgery. On 1 August, UNFPA also sent female, male and adolescent dignity kits for 900 people, including 500 women, 200 men and 200 female adolescents, to Syrian Family planning association SFPA in Dara’a city. Health partners remain on standby with an ambulance to transport the injured to Dara’a national hospital or nearest health facility as needed, while UNICEF and NGO partners have also set up a temporary clinic to receive patients in Dara’a city. Mobile medical teams are also providing primary health care at the two collective and conducting MUAC screening for children and pregnant and lactating women.

Currently, drinking water is available in Dara’a Al-Balad neighbourhoods through water that is piped twice a week. WASH needs at the two collective shelters are also being covered by SARC and the Dara’a Water Board through water trucking. Additional plans are being put in place to reinforce the supply of drinking water in the area (through water trucking activities and maintenance and repairs of water networks in host communities), as well as hygiene promotion and community engagement for behavior and social change (through distribution of hygiene kits and hygiene awareness campaigns).

Protection support is also being provided to affected communities. Currently, one community center is open in Dara’a city, although the number of people accessing it remains relatively low due to ongoing insecurity and movement difficulties. Child Protection activities, including identification of unaccompanied and separated children and case management, as well as awareness raising sessions on prevention of family separation, and mine risk education (through the distribution of flyers and brochures) started on 2 August. UNHCR and partners have confirmed that distribution of core relief items to IDPs and affected populations have started; assessments of the needs in collective shelters are also planned.

For further information, please contact:

Liny Suharlim, Head of Office a.i, OCHA Syria, liny.suharlim@un.org

Katherine Carey, Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA Syria, carey2@un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.