UNRWA: 10 Years of Multiple Hardships for Palestine Refugees in Syria

Yarmouk refugee camp. (Photo: UNRWA)

Ten years after demonstrations started in Syria, over half of the Palestine refugees in the country have been displaced at least once because of the brutal conflict that ensued, including 120,000 who have sought safety in neighboring countries, mainly Lebanon and Jordan, and beyond, according to a press release by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Once a vibrant community of over 550,000 people, Palestinians had come to Syria in two main waves in 1948 and 1967 to settle in 12 camps across the country. Yarmouk, the most famous of the Palestine refugee camps, became known as “the capital of Palestine refugees.”

UNRWA has operated in Syria since 1950. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, UNRWA has stepped up its operations to ensure the needs of Palestine refugees in the country are met, said the press release. The Agency is the main provider of humanitarian assistance and basic services to 438,000 Palestine refugees who remain in the country – 91 percent of whom live in absolute poverty – and who have been among those worst affected by the conflict.

“As a Palestine refugee, you are already born with a tag that says ‘displaced’,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “If you are a Palestine refugee in Syria, then you are at least doubly displaced and most likely living in extreme hardship.”

In response to the Syria regional crisis, with its multiple layers of conflict, displacement, hardship, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, UNRWA is a lifeline to nearly 420,000 of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Syria. Cash assistance and food aid by the Agency are often the only fixed support they get.

In neighboring Jordan and Lebanon, a total of 45,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria receive health, education, social services and cash assistance from UNRWA to help cover their basic needs. But the funding crisis that has hit UNRWA in the last few years has also heavily impacted the Agency’s ability to adequately respond to the immense needs of Palestine refugees from Syria.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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