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UNHCR increases aid in north-east Syria




UNHCR increases aid in north-east Syria

Displaced Syrians, who fled their homes in the border town of Ras al-Ain, receive humanitarian aid on October 12, 2019, in the town of Tal Tamr in the countryside of Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province.  © UNHCR/Delil Souleiman

Displaced Syrians, who fled their homes in the border town of Ras al-Ain, receive humanitarian aid on October 12, 2019, in the town of Tal Tamr in the countryside of Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province. © UNHCR/Delil Souleiman


Since the escalation of violence in north-east Syria last week, teams from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have assisted some 60,000 people.

In north-east Syria, UNHCR has reached nearly 30,000 households, or an estimated 60,000 people with core relief items (CRIs). As of 23 October, UNHCR winter distributions have reached 7,400 families (more than 31,000 individuals) in Al-Hol, Areesha, Ein Issa (before it closed), Roj and Mahmoudli camps – this is around one third of the camp population in north-east Syria. Distributions are planned to cover an estimated 92,000 individuals, including both new arrivals and existing camp residents. Meanwhile, as of 23 October, UNHCR has assisted an estimated 5,500 households (over 28,700 individuals) from IDPs and host community members with CRIs in urban areas and collective shelters to in Al-Hassakeh, Mabada, and Qamishli. UNHCR has reached around 25 per cent of those displaced in 79 locations in Al-Hassakeh, Malikeyeh and Qamishli. 

We continue to conduct through our protection partners assessments in communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Ar-Raqqa. Many newly displaced families have reportedly settled within the host communities and their needs are also being assessed.

Among the immediate protection needs which have been identified are the lack of civil documentation, as people left their homes without papers and other belongings. Families have also been separated.

Some people are in need of psychological first aid and psychosocial support. UNHCR mobilized protection teams to identify critical protection needs of the most vulnerable, including people with specific needs, elderly people and those with disabilities and serious medical conditions.

Following the reported departure of camp administration/management from Ain Issa camp, located approximately some 45 km south of the border town of Tell Abiad, UNHCR mobilized outreach volunteers and community leaders to arrange the return of identification documents to camp residents who were without papers. As of today, humanitarian workers are unable to safely access the camp to provide critical life-saving assistance. Basic services, including food and water, are no longer being provided.

UNHCR estimates its initial additional funding needs inside Syria at US$31.5 million within the existing appeal for Syria (HRP). This is provisional given the fast evolving developments on the ground.

An estimated 180,000 people have been internally displaced since the start of the escalation of conflict in north-east Syria on 9 October, including nearly 80,000 children. Over 150,000 people are still displaced, while some 43,000 have returned to their places of origin in the past days, but the situation remains highly volatile, critical civilian infrastructure have been damaged and humanitarian needs continue to grow.

In addition, some 10,000 people crossed from north-east Syria into neighbouring Iraq as of 24 October. There is a steady increase in the daily number of arrivals at the Iraqi border, with up to 1,700 people arriving overnight. Three out of four are women and children, some of whom unaccompanied. They fled in fear of fighting from Kobani, Amoda and Qamishli and surrounding villages, and arrived at the border after days of travelling. Some need psycho-social first aid and support after witnessing explosions and shelling, including children.

In Iraq, UNHCR in close collaboration with local authorities and partners has established a new refugee camp in Duhok Governorate, Bardarash camp, now hosting over 8,000 of the newly arrived refugees from north-east Syria. Refugees were transferred from the border and provided with UNHCR family tents, hot meals, water, blankets and other essential items, as well as medical and psychosocial attention.

Their needs are currently being assessed by the local authorities and UNHCR.

One man our colleagues spoke to, who had arrived with his wife and six children, said the journey had been very difficult but they had fled in fear of their lives as shells fell near their home. He said he had seen people fleeing in all directions, including towards the Iraqi border.

UNHCR teams and partners continue to be on the ground in both Syria and Iraq despite the difficult circumstances, to provide life-saving protection and assistance to those who had to leave everything behind. 

Due to the continuous influx, Bardarash refugee camp is expected to be full within the coming week, so UNHCR is currently discussing with the authorities a location for another camp.

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