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Nine years of conflict weigh heavily on Syrian refugee girl


Nine years of conflict weigh heavily on Syrian refugee girl


Nine years of conflict weigh heavily on Syrian refugee girl


Each weekday morning after her mother has left for work, Naamat changes her youngest brother Ibrahim’s diaper and feeds him a bottle of formula milk. She then prepares a simple breakfast of bread, oil and thyme-packed za’atar to share with her two other younger brothers before cleaning up, packing their bags and walking with them to catch the school bus, having dropped Ibrahim off with a neighbour.

“Naamat is only 11, but she’s living the life of a 30-year-old woman,” her mother Fatima says. “It’s because of our situation,” Naamat responds. “I have to support my parents and my brothers. They don’t have anyone else but me.”

This week marks nine years since the start of the conflict in Syria, a stretch of time that weighs heavily on the lives of millions of ordinary Syrians who have seen their loved ones lost, homes destroyed, families uprooted and their lives put on hold. For 11-year-old Naamat, a refugee from Homs living in Jordan, the war has compelled her take on responsibilities well beyond her years.

While Fatima earns 5 Jordanian dinars (US$7) for half-days spent cleaning houses, her husband Mahmoud is unable to work or look after their children due to the lingering physical and psychological effects of his experiences in Syria, leaving Naamat to take on many of the household chores.

Mahmoud was arrested in 2011 after leaving Friday prayers, with Fatima knowing nothing of her husband’s fate. In 2013, she was forced to flee the fighting in Homs with Naamat and her younger brother Fahed, moving first to the southern Syrian province of Deraa before crossing the border into Jordan.

“It was the worst night of my whole life.”

“We walked from sunset until sunrise,” Fatima recalled. “It was the worst night of my whole life. It was dark and we could hear the sound of bullets in the distance. It was very cold and there was snow, and no way of keeping warm.”

Then aged just four, Naamat still remembers the disorientation she felt arriving in Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan with dozens of other Syrian refugees. “I was surprised because I used to live in a house, and we came to live in tents. I was really shocked. We used to feel warm, and suddenly I found myself in a tent and cold.”

Fatima moved with her children to Jordan’s capital Amman. A year or so later and quite out of the blue, she was reunited with her husband. “There was a knock on the door and I found him [standing there]. I had thought he was dead.”

Today, seven years after their arrival in Jordan, they are still barely able to keep their heads above water. The run-down apartment near central Amman that they rent for 100 dinars (US$140) a month is almost entirely devoid of furniture, with mattresses on the floors for seating and sleeping, and rarely more than a day’s worth of food in the kitchen.


  • Fatima holds her youngest son, Ibrahim, outside their home in Amman, Jordan. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

  • Naamat looks after her brother Ibrahim while their mother is at work. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

  • Eleven-year-old Namaat writes a poem on the steps outside her home. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

  • After finishing her morning chores, Namaat (left) takes the bus to school. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

  • Naamat feeds her youngest brother Ibrahim a bottle of formula milk. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

  • Naamat jumps rope with some of her neighbourhood friends. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

The little Fatima earns is nowhere near enough to provide even the basics for her family. But thanks to the 140 dinars (US$197) in monthly cash assistance she receives from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with food vouchers from the World Food Programme, she is at least able to cover the rent, keep them fed and pay for the children’s school transport.

It is a similar picture for the majority of the more than 5.5 million registered Syrian refugees living in the region’s major host countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

The share of refugees living below the poverty line exceeds 60 percent in many of these countries, while more than a third of refugee children are out of school. The protracted crisis has also placed a huge strain on the resources of the local communities generously hosting them.

“I will not despair.”

The precarious situation facing millions of refugees after nine years of conflict is what continues to drive cases of early marriage and child labour, and see children like Naamat required take on domestic duties at such a young age.

Yet despite the responsibility placed on her by their situation, and the awareness that it is not a normal state of affairs for an 11-year-old, Naamat’s quiet determination has helped her to excel at school and rise to the top of the class in many subjects.

“I love education a lot, because I feel that it will give me a beautiful future,” she says. “I lost part of my childhood, but I find what remains in education, and in building a future for myself. I did not lose that yet, and I will not despair.”

It is this hope, kept alive by the fact that Jordan has opened its schools and communities to Syrian refugees, that keeps Naamat and her family going. After nine years, host communities continue to show remarkable solidarity.

“You never feel that she is broken.”

For Fatima, seeing the resilience and optimism that Naamat possesses allows her to hope that they will eventually overcome their current situation.

“Life was very tough on me and my family. We faced many challenges: the pain of war and the pain of leaving our loved ones behind, the financial situation, becoming refugees – so many things,” Fatima says. “But she has a very strong personality. You never feel that she is broken or vulnerable.”

That afternoon, after Fatima returns from work to take over the running of the household from her daughter, Naamat goes outside to play with two friends from the neighbourhood.

As they take turns jumping rope, competing to outdo each other, the serious expression that Naamat has worn for most of the day disappears, briefly replaced by a smile of pure joy.



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UNHCR: Staying and delivering for refugees amid COVID-19 crisis


UNHCR: Staying and delivering for refugees amid COVID-19 crisis


UNHCR: Staying and delivering for refugees amid COVID-19 crisis



UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, detailed today a series of measures it is taking in its field operations to help respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and prevent further spread.

“I am deeply concerned at this unprecedented pandemic and its impact on refugees and their host communities. The COVID-19 crisis has already had significant consequences for our operations, forcing us to rapidly adjust the way we work. However, we are sparing no effort to help and protect refugees the best we can under these difficult circumstances,’’ said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Our top priority in the COVID-19 crisis is to ensure that the people we serve are included in response plans and are properly informed, while we supplement Governments’ preparedness and response efforts wherever needed,’’ he added.

On 26 March, UNHCR called for $255 million as part of the wider UN appeal, to focus on priority countries that will require specific action.

Although the number of reported and confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection among refugees remains low, over 80 per cent of the world’s refugee population and nearly all the internally displaced people live in low to middle-income countries, many of which have weaker health, water and sanitation systems and need urgent support.

Many refugees live in densely populated camps or in poorer urban areas with inadequate health infrastructure and WASH – water, sanitation and hygiene – facilities. Prevention in these locations is of paramount importance, noted Grandi.

Measures UNHCR is taking include:

  • Reinforcing the health and WASH systems and services, including by distributing soap and increasing access to water.
  • Supporting governments with infection prevention and health-care response, including through the provision of medical equipment and supplies.
  • Distributing shelter material and core relief items.
  • Offering guidance and fact-based information on prevention measures.
  • Expanding cash assistance to help mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
  • Enhancing monitoring and interventions to ensure the rights of forcibly displaced people are respected.

In Bangladesh, training has started for staff working in health facilities serving the Rohingya camps, where some 850,000 refugees live in very dense conditions. More than 2,000 refugee volunteers are working with community and religious leaders to communicate important prevention measures. This is complemented by radio spots, video, posters and leaflets in Rohingya, Burmese and Bengali languages. Additional measures, including ensuring soap and water are accessible to all and increasing the number of hand washing facilities, are underway. Support for the creation of new isolation and treatment facilities for refugees and surrounding host community is also ongoing.

In Greece, UNHCR has been stepping up its support to the authorities to increase water and sanitation capacity, deliver hygiene items, and to establish and furnish medical units and spaces for screening, isolation and quarantine. UNHCR is also facilitating access to quality information for asylum seekers via helplines and interpretation, and by mobilizing refugee volunteers. UNHCR has been urging the authorities to scale up transfers from crowded island reception centres where 35,000 asylum seekers are staying in facilities for fewer than 6,000.

In Jordan, temperature screening is conducted at the entrance of the Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps. Awareness campaigns are ongoing. Electricity provision has been enhanced and the supermarkets are running extended hours to facilitate social distancing.

Handwashing and temperature screening facilities have also been put in place at points of entry as well as transit centres, reception centres and health facilities in camps/settlements in Ethiopia and Uganda.

In Sudan, UNHCR has delivered soap to over 260,000 refugees, internally displaced people (IDP) and members of the host communities. UNHCR, other UN agencies and the Ministry of Health are running a massive awareness campaign in several languages. Some 15,000 text messages have been sent to urban refugees living in Khartoum, sharing health awareness and prevention advice.

Prevention measures have also been put in place in refugee camps and IDP sites in the DRC and Burkina Faso. This includes the installation of hand-washing stations, the distribution of soap and cleaning products, mass awareness-raising using posters, leaflets, radio spots and community networks.

In Brazil, UNHCR and partners established an isolation area in Boa Vista to host possible suspected cases among Venezuelan refugees and migrants and are distributing 1,000 hygiene kits to the indigenous populations in Belem and Santarem.

UNHCR is also working with UN partners to find solutions to logistical challenges resulting from disrupted manufacturing capacity and border closures. This includes stepping up local and regional procurement and organizing air bridges. Over 100 tonnes of emergency and medical aid were recently airlifted to Chad and Iran.

“We will continue to expand our critical interventions on the ground. But to do this, we need timely and unearmarked financial support now, including to ongoing humanitarian operations. Coordinated international support is in our common interest and absolutely critical,” concluded Grandi.

Together with its partners, UNHCR in Thailand continues to explore ways to boost its preparedness, prevention and response activities to address the immediate public health needs of persons of concern communities prompted by COVID-19, including through ongoing proactive outreach with these groups.

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UNHCR’s airlift with vital medical aid lands in Iran.


UNHCR’s airlift with vital medical aid lands in Iran.


UNHCR’s airlift with vital medical aid lands in Iran.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, airlifted today (23 March) some 4.4 tonnes of much-needed medical aid items, including supplies to support the COVID-19 response in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

delivering masks, gloves and essential medicines to help address critical shortages in Iran’s health care system. Further flights are scheduled in the coming weeks to transport additional aid-items, medicine and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

There are close to one million refugees in Iran who have access to the same health services as the host community and are covered under the national health response. However, hospitals and health centres are struggling to cope with the sharply increasing number of individuals needing urgent help.

The virus has now spread to all 31 provinces of Iran. Refugees, most of whom live side by side with host communities in villages, towns and cities, are at the same risk of catching the COVID-19 as Iranians.

Already during the early stages of the epidemic, UNHCR, in coordination with the Government of Iran, distributed basic hygiene items such as soap and disposable paper towels to some 7,500 refugee families living in refugee settlements across the country. Aid items have also been made available to Government and NGO partners who are also engaged in the provision of assistance to refugees.

Globally, UNHCR is urgently seeking an initial US$33 million to boost preparedness, prevention and response activities to address the immediate public health needs of refugees and host communities prompted by the spread of COVID-19 around the world.


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UNHCR renews commitment to support forcibly displaced and stateless persons during COVID-19 pandemic


UNHCR renews commitment to support forcibly displaced and stateless persons during COVID-19 pandemic



UNHCR renews commitment to support forcibly displaced and stateless persons
during COVID-19 pandemic



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Uzbekistan to end statelessness for 50,000 people


Uzbekistan to end statelessness for 50,000 people


Uzbekistan to end statelessness for 50,000 people


An estimated 50,000 stateless people in Uzbekistan are set to acquire citizenship following the passing of a new law in the country.


A provision in the Citizenship Law, signed by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Friday, will come into effect on 1 April, conferring citizenship to registered stateless people who were granted permanent residence in Uzbekistan before 1 January 1995. 


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the law and provided recommendations to national authorities during its drafting.


Authorities estimate that around half of Uzbekistan’s stateless population, or some 49,228 people, will benefit from the new provision and be recognized as citizens. Their children will also be eligible for citizenship through the same process under the new law. 


The new law also includes other important provisions to prevent statelessness and introduces, for the first-time, simplified naturalization procedures. The simplified naturalization procedures will come into effect in September this year and will also benefit registered stateless people who acquired permanent residence permits after 1 January 1995.


“Uzbekistan has made significant progress in resolving and preventing statelessness in recent years and this development is a huge leap forward in ending known cases of statelessness. Tens of thousands of people now have the opportunity to belong,” said Yasuko Oda, UNHCR Representative for Central Asia.


Over the past three years Uzbekistan conferred nationality to some 10,000 stateless people, amended its birth registration practices to ensure universal birth registration, including for children born to undocumented parents, and launched a nationwide campaign to identify and register all cases of unregistered births.


There are currently 97,346 documented stateless people in Uzbekistan. Statelessness in the country and across the wider region is largely a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the formation of new States, which left hundreds of thousands throughout Central Asia stateless.


While many were able to confirm or acquire the nationality of the successor States, others became stranded across newly established borders, with invalidated Soviet passports or no means to prove where they were born or resided.


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UN Refugee Agency steps up COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response measures


UN Refugee Agency steps up COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response measures


UN Refugee Agency steps up COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response measures



Geneva, 10 March 2020 – The world’s response to the COVID-19 crisis must encompass and focus on all, including those forced to flee their homes. The elderly among the world’s forcibly displaced population are particularly vulnerable, warned today UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launching its initial COVID-19 appeal.

UNHCR is urgently seeking an initial US$33 million to boost the preparedness, prevention and response activities to address the immediate public health needs of refugees prompted by COVID-19.

“To date and based on available evidence, there have been no reports of COVID-19 infections among refugees and asylum seekers. However, the virus can affect anyone and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the global response includes all people,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “Allowing full access to health services, including for the most marginalized members of the community, is the best way to protect us all. Everyone on this planet – including refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people– should be able to access health facilities and services.”

More than 70 million people globally have been forced by persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations to flee their homes. Of those, more than 20 million are refugees, of whom 84 per cent are being hosted by low or middle-income nations which have weaker health and water and sanitation systems.

UNHCR is currently strengthening its overall preparedness, prevention and response measures to COVID-19 around the world. The health and well-being of refugees and humanitarian personnel working for them in more than 130 countries around the world are central to these efforts.

The outbreak is a global challenge that must be addressed through international solidarity and cooperation. Alongside other UN agencies and partner organizations, UNHCR has been following developments closely and working at global and country levels in line with the COVID-19 guidance issued by the World Health Organisation.

UNHCR’s response to COVID-19 builds on its previous experience in SARS, Ebola, and influenza outbreaks. These preparedness measures protect refugees before, during and after global health emergencies.

In that regard, UNHCR advocates for refugees and asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons to be included in the national surveillance, preparedness, response plans and activities. In particular, UNHCR calls on States to ensure that their rights are equally respected should restrictions on entry, travel, and freedom of movement be imposed.

To date over 100 countries are reporting local transmission of COVID-19. Of those, 34 countries have refugee populations exceeding 20,000 people, and who are currently unaffected by the virus. In these contexts, prevention, preparedness and communication are key. Because refugees and internally displaced people often find themselves in places that are overcrowded or where public health and other services are already overstretched or poorly-resourced, all UNHCR operations have been advised to put in place contingency plans and mechanisms in collaboration with governments and partners. These will closely monitor, report, mitigate and respond to protection and public health risks for the forcibly displaced.

Where applicable, and if there is a need to supplement national responses, UNHCR is contributing to epidemiological surveillance, reporting, contact tracing and investigation of alerts in collaboration with ministries of health, WHO and partners, including at points of entry and refugee sites. In addition, UNHCR operations are actively contributing to overall UN efforts and reviewing capacity of public health partners to respond in the event of an outbreak in refugee/IDP camps or settlements.

Operations are also being advised to check their stocks of medical and other hygiene supplies, equipment and personal protective kits.

Knowing the value of timely, accurate and relevant information, UNHCR is strengthening communications with refugee and internally displaced communities, particularly regarding hygiene and sanitation measures. These materials are being adapted to suit local linguistic and cultural needs.

UNHCR is also looking at issues such as adequate access to clean water, waste disposal and soap in health facilities, collective shelters and the wider community and training staff to ensure infection control in health centres.

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Mohamed Salah joins up with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR as first Instant Network Schools Ambassador


Mohamed Salah joins up with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR as first Instant Network Schools Ambassador


Mohamed Salah joins up with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR


  • Footballer becomes Ambassador for school programme that aims to give a quality education to 500,000 refugee and host country students by 2025.

  • 20 new Instant Network Schools will be launched this year as the programme prepares to enter Egypt for the first time.

Mohamed Salah has become the first Ambassador for Instant Network Schools – which connect refugee and host-country students to a quality digital education – as the programme prepares to expand into his home country of Egypt for the first time.

Instant Network Schools was set up in 2013 by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to give young refugees, host communities and their teachers access to digital learning content and the internet, improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.

To date, the programme has benefited over 86,500 students and 1,000 teachers ensuring that refugees and children from the communities that host them have access to accredited, quality, and relevant learning opportunities.

There are 36 Instant Network Schools currently operating across eight refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR are jointly investing €26 million to expand the programme to benefit 500,000 refugee and host community students and 10,000 teachers.

By 2025, 255 new Instant Network Schools will be opened, including 20 schools planned this year.

Mr Salah will visit some of the schools supported by the programme and will help to raise awareness of the need and importance of quality education for refugee children and for more investment in digital technology that provides a connection to the outside world and gives students a chance to shape their own futures.

Mohamed Salah said: “I’m partnering with Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR to close the gap between the education available to refugees and their peers living in settled communities. Instant Network Schools is an important initiative that I am proud to represent which is transforming learning for a generation of young people across sub-Saharan Africa and soon also in my home country, Egypt.”

Andrew Dunnett, Vodafone’s Group Director of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sustainable Business and Foundations, said: “Over 50 per cent of the world’s 70.8 million displaced people are children and they can spend their entire schooling in refugee camps with limited access to a quality education. Mohamed Salah shares our passion about the importance of education as a pivotal building block for personal and societal development and will help us to promote and expand the Instant Network Schools programme.”

Dominique Hyde, UNHCR’s Director of External Relations, said: “We are very proud of our long-term partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, and we are delighted to welcome Mohamed Salah as Ambassador of UNHCR and Vodafone’s Instant Network Schools programme. On and off the football field, Mohamed is a positive and inspirational role model for youth all around the world. His optimism and passion perfectly align with the Instant Network Schools programme. Connected education brings hope to refugee youth, giving them the inspiration, motivation and opportunity to achieve a better future.”

Mr Salah, who was named by Time Magazine in 2019 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, is well known for his philanthropy in a range of areas including education.

Mr Salah has been a brand ambassador for Vodafone Egypt since the end of 2017 and has fronted the company’s brand advertising campaigns ever since. In 2018, Vodafone Egypt launched the ‘Mo Salah World’ promotional price plan which offered customers 11 free voice minutes every time he scored a goal.

Instant Network Schools

An Instant Network School transforms an existing classroom into an online hub for learning, complete with internet connectivity, sustainable solar power and a robust teacher training programme.

At the heart of an Instant Network School is technology provided by Vodafone Foundation, the Instant Classroom, a digital ‘school in a box’ that can be set up in a matter of minutes. It includes:

  • 25 tablets for students;

  • 1 laptop for the teacher;

  • 1 projector;

  • 1 speaker;

  • 1 4G connectivity/Wi-Fi router to connect to the internet;

  • in built solar charging for the tablets and laptops;

  • cables; and

  • a library of digital educational resources.

A recent evaluation of the existing programme over one year showed a positive impact on learning outcomes, including an increase in informational communications technology (ICT) literacy of 61 per cent for students and 125 per cent for teachers, improved confidence, motivation and academic performance by students. Wider analysis shows higher levels of school attendance, with examples of young people accessing tertiary education from within refugee camps for the first time.

Vodafone is UNHCR’s largest corporate partner for Connected Education, supporting the delivery of the United Nations SDG number four (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and 17 (strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development).

About Vodafone Group

Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers. We have extensive experience in connectivity, convergence and the Internet of Things, as well as championing mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets.

Vodafone Group has mobile operations in 24 countries, partners with mobile networks in 42 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets. As of 31 December 2019, Vodafone Group had approximately 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers and 22 million TV customers, including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates. For more information, please visit:

About Vodafone Foundation

Vodafone Foundation is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Vodafone Foundation is an independent UK registered charity, registered charity number 1089625.

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees appeals for safety for civilians trapped in Idlib


UN High Commissioner for Refugees appeals for safety for civilians trapped in Idlib


UN High Commissioner for Refugees appeals for safety for civilians trapped in Idlib


With the dramatically worsening situation in Syria’s Idlib province, where close to a million people are in grave danger, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi supports calls for a cessation of hostilities and appeals for urgent action to allow people trapped in the conflict to move to places of safety.

More than 900,000 people are estimated to have fled their homes or shelters in Idlib in recent months. Most are now in northern Idlib and Aleppo governorates, compounding the already disastrous humanitarian situation there, amidst freezing conditions.

“We need an end to the fighting, and access to safety to preserve lives,” said the High Commissioner. “The UN Secretary-General has appealed for parties to the conflict to respect the rules of war. Every day that passes, that call is more urgent. Thousands of innocent people cannot pay the price of a divided international community, whose inability to find a solution to this crisis is going to be a grave stain on our collective international conscience.”

“As in the past, in moments of crisis, I am also appealing for neighbouring countries, including Turkey, to broaden admissions, so that those most in danger can reach safety - even knowing that capacities and public support are already strained,” Grandi said. “For these countries, already hosting 5.6 million refugees, of whom 3.6 million are in Turkey, international support must be sustained and stepped up.”

It is estimated that there are currently over four million civilians in north-west Syria. More than half are internally displaced. Many have been living in displacement for years and have been forced to flee several times. Some 80 per cent of the newly displaced are women and children. Many elderly people are also at risk.

The UN and other partners in Syria and elsewhere have been working over weeks to help displaced people in the Idlib area. Given the intensity and scale of displacement, shelter needs are critical. The harsh winter weather - including snow, flooding, sub-zero temperatures and rising fuel prices - are adding to the difficulties and suffering.

Humanitarian organisations are trying to reach people by all means possible, including through cross-border shipments of shelter and emergency aid kits from Turkey. Local partners on the ground are striving to continue to provide psychosocial support, legal counselling and assistance, and to help vulnerable people get access to basic services – but many of them are themselves caught up in the turmoil.

Safe humanitarian access, and the safety of humanitarian workers, must be ensured. UNHCR is seeking to help up to 275,000 people (55,000 families) with essential aid items and to assist another 84,000 people within Idlib with shelter (14,000 families). It has also prepositioned stocks in the region to meet the immediate needs of up to 2.1 million people, including tents for 400,000.

“Let me be clear,” said Grandi. “As humanitarian agencies, we are striving to save lives, but the space for these efforts is shrinking. In the face of such suffering, humanitarian aid alone cannot be the answer.” 

Newly displaced in Syria in urgent need of protection, shelter


Newly displaced in Syria in urgent need of protection, shelter


Newly displaced in Syria in urgent need of protection, shelter



UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians in north-west Syria. The humanitarian crisis is becoming increasingly desperate, with massive numbers of people on the move. UNHCR, as part of the UN humanitarian response, is stepping-up to reach those in need.  

Around 700,000 people have fled within or from the conflict areas in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo Governorates since early December. A critical need is shelter, compounded by the harsh winter conditions. Many have had to flee already several times, leaving behind possessions, and with limited places for them to stay.

Existing camps and settlements of internally displaced persons are overcrowded, and shelter in existing houses is getting scarce. Many schools and mosques are filled with displaced families, and even finding a place in an unfinished building has become close to impossible.

UNHCR seeks to support people in need where-ever they are, and through all available channels. UNHCR is contributing urgently needed tents as well as other essential core relief items, including blankets together with humanitarian partners. However, this will only meet a small part of the total needs, as recent displacement has outstripped capacity. More resources and funding are urgently required.

Protection services, targeting the most vulnerable displaced persons are also scaled up, including psychosocial counselling and other emergency protection support, including to many children.

The conflict in Syria has caused the biggest displacement crisis in the world. Over 5.5 million Syrians live as refugees in the region. More than six million Syrians are displaced within the country.

Violence in Sudan’s Darfur forces thousands to flee


Violence in Sudan’s Darfur forces thousands to flee


Violence in Sudan’s Darfur forces thousands to flee



Clashes in El Geneina, in Sudan’s West Darfur State, have forced more than 11,000 people to flee as refugees into neighbouring Chad since last month. Four thousand of them have fled during last week alone and it is estimated that the clashes have displaced some 46,000 inside the country.

Most of them were already internally displaced people and when attacks happened in West Darfur in late December 2019, including on displacement camps, people fled and found temporary refuge in schools, mosques and other buildings in El Geneina.

With El Geneina only 20 kilometers from the border, thousands of refugees crossed into Chad, a number UNHCR anticipates could reach 30,000 in the coming weeks as tensions persist. UNHCR teams on the ground are hearing accounts of people fleeing after their villages, houses and properties were attacked, many burnt to the ground.

In Chad, the refugees are currently scattered in several villages along a line that spans nearly 100 kilometers near the border, around the town of Adré, in the province of Ouaddaï which already hosts 128,000 Sudanese refugees. The conditions are dire. Most are staying in the open or under makeshift shelters, with little protection from the elements. Food and water are urgently needed, while health conditions are a concern.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, its Government counterpart and humanitarian partners are on the ground and coordinating the response to this emergency, registering refugees and providing lifesaving aid including food, water, relief items. Refugees needing special care, including unaccompanied children, are being identified and assisted.

However, the rate of refugee arrivals risks outpacing our capacity. More resources and support will be required to bolster the response.

Together with the Chadian government, UNHCR is in the process of identifying a new site further from the border, where the refugees can be relocated and receive the security and assistance they desperately need.

Meanwhile in West Darfur, UNHCR and other humanitarian actors are also rushing relief items such as blankets, sleeping mats and jerry cans to assist displaced men, women and children at over three dozen gathering points. In the past week, trucks with additional relief items arrived from UNHCR’s warehouses in other Darfur states, with more aid on the way.

UNHCR continues to seek international community’s support for the transitional government of Sudan in addressing the root causes of the conflict in Darfur. Restoring security will be key for peacebuilding. This will also allow much needed development assistance to support sustainable solutions, including the return of Sudanese displaced inside the country and living as refugees, once conditions are conducive.


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