Entering its seventh year, the Syrian conflict has created over 5.2 million refugees and caused the displacement of an estimated 6.5 million within the country.
The conflict in Syria is complex and deadly. It has led to large-scale migration displacement both in and out of the country. Syrian and Palestinian livelihoods have been dramatically impacted. This has resulted in widespread demand for humanitarian assistance which at times is curtailed by access restrictions in different areas of the country. While several efforts supported by the international community have sought to end the violence, these have yet to succeed.
The conflict has affected three generations of Palestine refugees in Syria. Many of them have been internally displaced, while others have fled the violence leaving everything behind.
Of the 560,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, there are an estimated 438,000 who remain in the country. Over 60 per cent are internally displaced and 28,900 are located in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.
Compounded by sanctions, Syria's economy has suffered from significant price rises, essential commodity shortages. Inflation has lead to the devaluation of the Syrian pound. Unemployment can be estimated as high as sixty per cent. To date, 95 per cent of Palestine refugees rely on UNRWA's food and cash assistance to survive.
About 50,000 Palestine refugees have fled to Jordan and Lebanon, where many are living marginalised existences. In Lebanon, Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) are faced with a precarious legal status. They experience difficulties in regularizing their stay and have limited access to social protection services. Denied access to public services and barred from working in several syndicated professions, many fear exploitation, abuse, arbitrary detention, and refoulement. In Jordan, a government policy of non-admission has stemmed the flow of PRS entering the country, although the number recorded with UNRWA in June 2017 reached 17,440 revealing an increase from the previous year. Many of the PRS struggle, with over 92 per cent relying on UNRWA assistance.
In Syria, despite extremely harsh and often dangerous conditions, UNRWA has continued to provide vital assistance and services. UNRWA has maintained humanitarian assistance, health, education, youth support, and social services among others.
Cash and food assistance have remained the primary priority among humanitarian interventions for the Agency. Essential non-food commodities are also distributed particularly to the internally displaced and including those lodged in nine UNRWA collective shelters in Damascus and Rif Damascus.
UNRWA has been providing free healthcare through its network of 27 clinics and health points. To address children's mental welfare, UNRWA has been providing psychosocial and mental support through counselling, structured recreational activities and capacity development for education and other frontline staff.
During the 2016-2017 school year, 44,598 Palestine refugee students attended a network of 101 schools. Of the 3,812 students who sat their ninth-grade exam 3,044 passed, achieving 80 per cent success rate compared to the national average of 65.83 per cent. This result has revealed the determination of students and teachers to succeed despite the conflict.
In Syria, students have been encouraged to engage locally within their schools and communities through school parliaments, and internationally through the #MyVoiceMySchool initiative.
Figures as of 30 November 2017
Citizenship / English | Ages 11-14, 14-16
My Voice-My School focuses on the topic of quality education as enshrined in the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Connecting UNRWA's schools with partner schools overseas, the project seeks to stimulate student conversation about quality education and what individuals and communities can do to help make it a reality for all.