• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Despite insecurity, logistical obstacles, aid effort in Syria makes some progress

News Stories, 1 November 2012

© UNHCR/H.Mukhtar
Preparing for an aid distribution in Damascus. UNHCR was able to reach some Syrian families with emergency humanitarian assistance in previously inaccessible areas over the Eid al-Adha holiday.

DAMASCUS, Syria, October 31 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency had some success in distributing emergency humanitarian assistance to thousands of Syrian families in previously inaccessible areas over the Eid al-Adha holiday. But the effort was hampered by insecurity and logistical hurdles.

In all, 550 tons of UNHCR supplies were set aside for possible distribution to up to 13,000 affected families or 65,000 people during a proposed ceasefire, which did not hold.

"Unfortunately, the violence continued," said UNHCR spokesman. Ron Redmond. "Nevertheless, UNHCR and its partners were able to make some progress in delivering emergency family kits to Homs, south Hassakeh, al Raqqa and Aleppo."

As part of the joint UN humanitarian response in Syria, UNHCR had already pre-positioned five thousands 42-kilogramme emergency family kits in the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) warehouse in the northern city of Aleppo and had hoped to deliver 5,000 more from a Damascus stockpile over the weekend.

Last Thursday, SARC and its local relief committee partners in Aleppo did manage to distribute some of the pre-positioned emergency kits to 800 families about 4,000 people. But insecurity prevented further distributions in Aleppo and nearby Idlib. "Nor were we able to deliver the other 5,000 emergency kits from Damascus," said Redmond.

The refugee agency did, however, manage to get 20 trucks, carrying UNHCR family kits, to Homs. One truck in a seven-vehicle convoy from Damascus to Homs was hijacked on Saturday and its cargo of mattresses stolen. The driver was unharmed and the truck later released.

Altogether, the deliveries to Homs are bringing 1,900 emergency family kits for up to 9,500 people. Twelve of the trucks arrived on Saturday as part of a joint UN mission to the city. The aid supplies were delivered to the SARC warehouse in Homs.

Insecurity in and around the city prevented immediate distribution of the aid. SARC officials said they and their local counterparts would be able to distribute the family kits over the next two to three weeks, including some 700 to the Rastan and Talbiseh areas if security allows.

"Our team in the north-eastern city of Hassakeh worked through the weekend opening supply routes to southern Hassakeh governorate and to the north-central city of Raqqa. A trial run on Saturday succeeded in delivering 70 family kits to southern Hassakeh and another 150 to Raqqa," said Redmond.

"Although a lack of diesel fuel in the region delayed the operation, by mid-week we delivered more than 1,000 kits to these two areas and 270 families have already received the packages in southern Hassakeh," he added.

UNHCR has more than 350 staff in three offices across Syria and is part of the joint United Nations humanitarian response. The agency is at the half-way point in a large-scale operation to distribute non-food aid packages to 500,000 people by the end of this year.

The refugee agency is also carrying out an emergency cash assistance programme for displaced people, providing emergency funds for vulnerable families so they can pay rent or meet other critical needs not covered by the aid package programme. So far, 9,800 families have benefitted from the cash programme in Al Nabek, south of Homs, and in Hassekeh.

Elsewhere in the region, the number of registered Syrian refugees or those awaiting registration in surrounding countries now totals more than 372,600. They include 105,700 in Jordan; 106,300 in Lebanon; 45,300 in Iraq; 107,800 in Turkey; and 7,500 in North Africa.




UNHCR country pages

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

The UN refugee agency is increasingly alarmed over the continuing violence in Iraq and distressed about the lack of an international humanitarian response to deal with the massive numbers of people being displaced. After an assessment mission in November last year, UNHCR officials warned that the agency was facing an even larger humanitarian crisis than it had prepared for in 2002-03. But UNHCR and other organisations are sorely lacking in funds to cope with the growing numbers of displaced.

In an effort to fill the massive gap in funding, UNHCR in January 2007 launched a US$60 million appeal to cover its protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within strife torn Iraq.

The longer the Iraq conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

Posted on 5 February 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three millionPlay video

UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three million

The number of refugees in Syria's intensifying crisis passes 3 million people, amid reports of horrifying conditions inside the country. Iman and her family were displaced four times inside Syria before finally seeking refuge in Lebanon.