palestine refugees and the syria crisis

Well into its seventh year of conflict, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria remains one of the most violent, deadly, and volatile in recent history.

Amid unconscionable bloodshed, destruction, and limited humanitarian access, Palestine refugees suffer indiscriminate violence, restrictions on their freedom of movement, and continued violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. 

Of the estimated 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining inside Syria, over 95% (418,000) are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance from UNRWA, including food, water, shelter, and medical assistance. Almost 254,000 are internally displaced, and an estimated 56,600 are trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged locations, such as Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem in Damascus; Ghouta in Rif Damascus; and Dera’a camp, Muzeirib and Jilien in southern Syria. 

More than 120,000 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) have fled the country, including around 32,500 to Lebanon and 17,000 to Jordan. Many face a precarious and marginalized existence due to their uncertain legal status and limited social protection mechanisms, making them heavily reliant on UNRWA for their basic needs. 

UNRWA is the largest direct provider of assistance to Palestine refugees affected by the Syria conflict with almost 4,000 staff in Syria, refugees themselves, dedicating their lives to provide UNRWA services.

In 2018, UNRWA needs $409 million to continue to provide its services to close to half a million Palestine refugees affected by the crisis in Syria, including those displaced into Lebanon and Jordan. 

UNRWA launched the 2018 Syria Emergency Appeal in the midst of a financial crisis, which was exacerbated by the US decision to cut back its funding from $350 million to $60 million with a stipulation that funds could not be used for UNRWA programming in Lebanon or Syria. In 2017, the US provided 60% of UNRWA total emergency funding in Syria. You can help fund UNRWA by donating here.

UNRWA supports nearly half a million Palestine refugees in Syria where the conflict has rendered many of them refugees twice, if not three times, over.
— Mohammed Abdi Adar, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria

the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk camp, syria [updated as of april 26, 2018]

There has been a severe escalation in conflict affecting Yarmouk Camp, Damascus, where 160,000 Palestine refugees were once registered prior to 2012 and where today only a few hundred remain.

The area was first completely besieged in July 2013, resulting in massive food and medicine shortages. In January 2014, the siege was partially loosened, allowing some UNRWA access into the camp. A now famously tragic photo depicting thousands of refugees waiting in line for UNRWA assistance highlights the dire and haunting humanitarian conditions faced by refugees trapped in Yarmouk. UNRWA has been unable to access Yarmouk since 2015, when ISIS gained control of the area with the exception of itinerant access to provide emergency healthcare services. 

Since April 19, over 5,000 of the estimated 6,000 refugees left Yarmouk following dramatic and lethal increases in violence. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and the last remaining hospital has been rendered inoperable and the remaining individuals are facing unimaginably difficult conditions without water, electricity, or medical services.

"It tragic symbol of immense human cost of Syrian conflict," says Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. UNRWA is prepared to provide emergency aid to fleeing refugee families as soon as security conditions permit. 

Watch Pierre Krähenbühl's speech at the 2018 Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region

Watch Shahed's Journey from Syria

Shahed's Journey from Syria

The war in Syria has been raging for 7 years, displacing and devastating the lives of millions of innocent people. As a Palestine refugee from Syria, Shahed’s life has been shaken by displacement and conflict. Education was her lifeline. In the seventh year of the war, Shahed’s journey provides a hopeful message on the transformative power of her UNRWA education. Watch her story + learn more about Syria at: unrwausa.org/syria-facts #fundUNRWA #Syria7

Posted by UNRWA USA on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stories from Syria

The timeline below tells the story of seven years of brutal conflict in Syria