UNICEF Syria Crisis Situation Report September 2017 – Humanitarian Results – ReliefWeb

Highlights

• In Syria, despite a number of ceasefire and de-escalation agreements that were reached since 4 May 2017, escalation of military activities was reported in several provinces during September including Idleb and eastern Ghouta, and increased airstrikes in Hama and Aleppo, which impeded humanitarian access to people in need. Hundreds of schools in Idleb and Aleppo were forced to close temporarily and health services at multiple hospitals were disrupted.

• In September, UNICEF delivered clothing kits for children, nutrition items and water purification kits, 10,000 school bags and educational materials, in the newly accessible areas of Deir-Ez Zor-city. Meanwhile, there are reports that ISIL no longer controls Raqqa city, where there were an estimated 8,000 civilians trapped in the city during the end of the fighting. With no access for humanitarian agencies, the city was completely cut-off from life-saving assistance, with basic services either partially or completely out of service. UNICEF is working with other aid partners to ensure services and supplies are provided, particularly for the vulnerable children.

• With the start of the new school year 2017-2018 and In line with the No Lost Generation Initiative, UNICEF and education partners continue to accelerate efforts around the key pillars of increasing access to equitable education opportunities, improving quality of formal and non-formal education within a protective environment and education system strengthening. In 2017, about 1.8 million children were enrolled in formal education and over 112,700 others in non-formal or informal education with UNICEF support in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.

• Following the Kurdistan Regional Government referendum on independence on 25 September 2017, access to the Kurdish region has been severely restricted for NGO staff, particularly after the federal Government imposed full control over Erbil and Sulaymaniyah international airports. UNICEF and partners are providing assistance through field facilitators to the vulnerable Syrian refugee population (93 per cent) living in the KRI governorates.

• The situation of about 50,000 Syrians residing at Jordan’s north-eastern border “the berm”, of whom 66 per cent are believed to be women and children, remains highly vulnerable. Since 5 September 2017, the Hadalat camps has emptied out, with 3,000-3,500 Syrians having relocated to Rukban. UNICEF works with other aid partners to provide safe water and basic health services to the camp population, although at modest levels due to access constraints.

• As of 15 October, the UNICEF appeal for Syria is 51 per cent underfunded and the Iraq appeal for the response to Syrian refugees is 59 per cent underfunded, including carry-forward. Donor funding is urgently needed to continue this critical assistance to vulnerable populations – particularly children – sustainably.

SITUATION IN NUMBERS

In Syria

6 million
# of children affected

13,500,000
# of people affected
(HNO, 2017)

Outside Syria

More than 2.5 million (2,503,906)
# of registered Syria refugee children

About 5.3 million (5,260,306)
# of registered Syrian refugees (UNHCR, 7 October 2017)

UNICEF Appeal 2017

US$1,396 million

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs:

Despite the reduction in civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure that had been seen following a number of ceasefire and de-escalation agreements since 4 May 2017, instances of military escalation were reported, including in Idleb and eastern Ghouta. Furthermore, increased airstrikes in Hama and Aleppo governorates from September 19 to 30 impeded access to people in need. Hostilities began after Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and armed opposition groups launched an attack on Government of Syria (GOS) positions in the northern countryside of Hama. As result, UNICEF suspended activities in several locations due to the severity of the airstrikes. Hundreds of schools in Idleb and Aleppo were also forced to temporarily close and health services at multiple hospitals, including in Kafr Nobl, Khan Shaykun and Heish were disrupted. Many hospitals reduced services to emergency cases only due to the fear of shelling. Health workers and children were among those killed and injured in the attacks. Separate attacks impacted internally displaced people (IDPs) from Oqeirbat in Hama, who were killed or injured on the road between Salamiyeh and Atharia, while trying to move towards Idleb governorate.

Military operations against ISIL in Dier-ez-Zor including air strikes and clashes resulted in over 100,000 people being displaced1, mostly to other parts of the governorate, with over 30,000 moving to Ar-Raqqa and Hassakeh governorates. Many of those who remain in Deir-ez-Zor cannot be reached with humanitarian assistance due to the proximity of fighting or being in areas under ISIL control. Those who fled North into Ar-Raqqa and Hassakeh governorates are largely arriving at the Abu Khashab and Malha receiving points for security screening before moving to camps in Ain Issa or Areesha. Around 1,000 IDPs are entering the camps each day. While humanitarian partners are responding in these locations, additional support is needed, particularly at the receiving points where thousands of people are gathered while waiting for their security screening. In Ar-Raqqa city, the advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the international counter-ISIL coalition and led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, towards the centre of Ar-Raqqa city continued to result in the death and displacement of civilians. As of end of September, there are reports that ISIL no longer controls Raqqa city, where there were an estimated 8,000 civilians trapped in the city2 during the end of the fighting. Children trapped in Ar-Raqqa city were at an increasing risk of death and injury. With no access for humanitarian agencies, the city was completely cut-off from life-saving assistance, with basic services either partially or completely out of service. The main public hospital is not functional, and the population reportedly cut-off from water and electricity for over 60 days, forcing people to collect unsafe water from the Euphrates River and therefore putting them at risk of cross-fire and/or developing water-borne diseases. The provision of humanitarian assistance to besieged and hard-to-reach (HTR) areas continues to be extremely challenging due to delays in receiving government approvals, shifting conflict lines and deliberate restrictions by parties to the conflict. Throughout Syria, an estimated 226,000 children are living in 11 areas under siege with an estimated over 1.68 million children living in HTR areas with limited access to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Turkish authorities closed the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for both commercial and humanitarian shipments from September 1 to 5 in observance of the Eid holiday.

Jordan now hosts 654,582 registered Syrian refugees3 (51 per cent children) in addition to a population of approximately 50,000 Syrians at Jordan’s Northeast desert border (the berm). The families residing in Rukban camp have critical and unmet humanitarian needs. The modest support received via the Jordanian side of the berm includes the provision of safe water and access to basic health services, mainly through the UN in close coordination with the Jordanian Armed Forces. On 21 September, UNICEF began providing safe water up to 1,000 cubic meters on a daily basis from the borehole in Rukban. There was an increased number of patients seen at the UNICEF-supported clinic during last month with average 257 medical consultations per week, in addition to increasing number of children with malnutrition.

On 25 September, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a referendum on the independence of the Region from the rest of Iraq. After results showed more than 92 per cent of voters reportedly in favour. As a consequence, movement between the KRI territories and federal Iraq has been hampered, particularly for staff of non-governmental organizations4, after the federal Government imposed full control over Erbil and Sulaymaniyah international airports based on a list of demands to the KRI that were reportedly unmet. Due to uncertainty about internal border procedures, UNICEF missions between the KRI and federal areas were suspended from 24 September until the end of the month while field facilitators remained in their locations as a point of contact between UNICEF and partners. In addition to that, armed conflict in Iraq continued during the reporting month, with new offensives launched to retake Hawiga (Kirkuk) and Ana (western Anbar)5. To date, these changes in Iraq’s internal political situation and new military offensives have not directly impacted response for Syrian refugees, who live overwhelmingly (around 93 per cent) in the KRI governorates of Dahuk, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah, and who largely come from Kurdish areas in Syria. Adequate water, sanitation and hygiene support for vulnerable populations is critical in ensuring the health of children and their families and to avoid disease outbreak. The international flights ban and potential negative impact on trade, including oil exports, caused by deterioration of the relationship between the regional Government and Baghdad, as well as the disapproval from Iran and Turkey about the independence referendum, may further limit the ability of the KRG to support basic services and to pay regular salaries. UNICEF remains significantly underfunded against its 2017 appeal (36 per cent received including carry-over). No additional funding was received in September.

Lebanon continues to host an estimated 1.5 million refugees (over one million registered with UNHCR6). The situation remains precarious, with security threats and tensions across the country, as witnessed by the continuing volatility of the Palestinian Camp Ain El Hilweh, foiled terrorist acts by suspected elements linked to ISIL, and increasing social and political pressure on refugees to return. UNICEF Lebanon is short of critical funding for the implementation of an accelerated polio vaccination in response to the outbreak in Syria, as well as funding for WASH in Informal Settlements beyond January 2018.

In September, the number of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers registered in Turkey stood at over 3.5 million.7 More than 3.2 million Syrian refugees were under temporary protection in Turkey, including over 1.4 million children, while the remaining 331,500 were nationals mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq.8 Meanwhile, the number of refugees and migrants on the move toward Europe continued to rise. Almost 4,900 people arrived in Greece by sea in September, a 36 per cent increase from August, an estimated 35 per cent of whom were children.9 According to the Turkish Coast Guard Command, some 3,400 people were rescued or apprehended at sea, and at least 24 people (including a three year-old boy and a nine year-old girl) lost their lives.10 Anecdotal observations from UNICEF partners attribute the increased migration in part to favourable weather conditions as well as the opening of new smuggling routes via the Black Sea. Under the framework of the EU-Turkey Statement, three rounds of returns took place for 29 people11, bringing the total number of readmissions since the Statement came into effect in March 2016 to 1,337. UNICEF focuses on four priority areas including Education, Child Protection, Adolescents and Youth, and Basic Needs to reach refugee children in camps and host communities, as well as vulnerable Turkish children.

In Egypt, the total number of registered Syrian refugees and asylum seekers has reached over 124,000 people, an increase from 117,591 in January 2017. 40 per cent of new Syrian arrivals are coming illegally from the Sudan border, leading to an increased number of detentions. UNICEF has access to 23 detention centers where it provides humanitarian assistance including health services such as vaccines against preventable diseases, hygiene kits and non-food items, with special beneficiary focus on young girls. In addition, the number of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) has increased from 1,800 last year to 3,573 this year. About 62 per cent of this most vulnerable group are boys aged 15-17 coming from the Horn of Africa. While traditionally this group has been predominately from Eritrea and Ethiopia, there has been an increase in the number of separated Syrian children, mainly boys coming across the border. The main needs identified for UASC include access to protection services including legal aid, primary healthcare services, education, clothes, etc. The Government of Egypt grants Syrian refugee children access to education for in public schools under the same rules and regulations that apply for Egyptian nationals. However, absorbing the number of Syrian students (estimated at 39,000) in public schools is a persistent constraint due to high class density and limited number of teachers relative to students. Other challenges to enrolment include strict documentation requirements, safety measures (inside and outside classrooms) and lack of quality teaching in public schools.

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