2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Syrian Arab Republic
A year and a half of unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) has displaced thousands of people and had a dramatic effect on one of the largest urban-refugee populations in the world. At the time of writing, the violence had reached Damascus and its suburbs, home to the vast majority of refugees from Iraq and other countries. Faced with growing risks to their lives, many refugees and asylum-seekers have opted to return to unstable countries of origin.
As of September 2012, estimates of the number of Syrians who had fled their homes for safer areas of the country ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 million. UNHCR has developed a multi-sector emergency programme, within the framework of the UN Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).
Security constraints have forced UNHCR to adjust and curtail some activities. For instance, it has closed its facilities in Douma, north of Damascus. UNHCR has also reduced the number of its international staff in the country. Regular reviews of operating procedures aim to reduce the risks to staff and beneficiaries.
Despite the challenging situation, the Syrian authorities have continued to host and accommodate refugees. For its part, UNHCR, in partnership with the SARC, has maintained essential services and protection to persons of concern.
The protection and assistance needs of refugees have increased as the situation in the country has deteriorated. The incidence and severity of security and protection incidents affecting refugees rose perceptibly in mid-2012, with reported killings, kidnappings, domestic violence, threats and harassment.
Surveys of refugees reveal that they are beset by rising prices, a scarcity of livelihood opportunities and ballooning rents in the safer areas. Most refugees are entirely dependent on material assistance provided by UNHCR and other organizations. Rising levels of fear and isolation among refugees require UNHCR to reinforce its psychosocial and community services support. As a result of the drastic reduction in processing and departures in 2012, third-country resettlement remains a critical need.
Achieving its protection and assistance objectives requires that UNHCR continues its engagement and joint activities with national counterparts and other partners in the refugee programme. In 2013, UNHCR will need an adequate number of staff, sufficient access to refugees and affected Syrians, and the necessary funding to respond to shifting circumstances and humanitarian priorities.
|UNHCR 2013 planning figures for the Syrian Arab Republic|
|TYPE OF POPULATION||ORIGIN||JAN 2013||DEC 2013|
|TOTAL IN COUNTRY||OF WHOM ASSISTED
|TOTAL IN COUNTRY||OF WHOM ASSISTED
|1. Refugee figure for Iraqis is a Government estimate.|
|IDPs||Syrian Arab Rep.||2,500,000||700,000||2,500,000||1,000,000|
Main objectives and targets for 2013
Favourable protection environment
A national legal framework on asylum is developed.
Advocacy and capacity-building help to build a national legal framework on asylum.
Security from violence and exploitation
The risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is reduced and the quality of the response to it is improved.
Some 700 individuals benefit from counselling services.
At least 300 SGBV survivors receive legal assistance.
The protection of children is strengthened.
Implementing partners are assisted to enhance their capacity to prevent and respond to SGBV affecting children, as well as to provide direct assistance and multi-sectoral responses in complex cases.
Fair protection processes and documentation
The quality of registration and profiling is improved or maintained.
Registration and renewal activities are undertaken in compliance with guidelines.
Basic needs and essential services
Services for groups with specific needs are strengthened.
Some 11,000 refugee and asylum-seeker families receive cash assistance on a monthly basis.
Some 20,000 Syrian affected families are assisted with one-time cash grants.
The population of concern has adequate quantities of basic and domestic items.
Approximately 50,000 affected Syrian families receive basic non-food items (NFIs). Food security is improved.
Some 71,500 refugees are provided with cash as food assistance.
The health of the population improves or remains stable.
Some 100,000 refugees benefit from primary health care.
The population has optimal access to education.
Remedial classes benefit 3,000 refugee and Syrian children who dropped out of school, while special classes target up to 1,000 refugee children with learning and psychosocial difficulties.
Community empowerment and self-reliance
Community mobilization is strengthened and expanded.
Services are decentralized to promote local responses tailored to community needs through networks bringing together refugee outreach volunteers and local partners.
Self-reliance and livelihoods opportunities are improved.
Various types of vocational training and the fostering of partnerships with development agencies and new national institutions increase opportunities for self-reliance among people of concern.
The potential for resettlement is realized.
Some 5,100 individuals are submitted for resettlement and the departure of 3,500 individuals is facilitated.
The potential for voluntary return is realized.
Some 3,000 Iraqi and non-Iraqi refugees are assisted to return in safety and dignity.
Strategy and activities in 2013
UNHCR's strategy is to maintain contact with the various refugee groups through multiple outreach channels, adapting activities to meet evolving needs while minimizing risk to beneficiaries and staff. It also aims to develop partnerships that enhance national capacity.
Key activities include timely protection work, such as counselling and detention interventions, preventing and responding to SGBV and providing legal services, food, shelter, health care and education. The refugee outreach system will be maintained, and services will be delivered as close as possible to refugee-hosting areas.
While responding to the urgent emergency-response needs thrown up in Syria, UNHCR will continue to implement durable solutions, notably resettlement, as well as help to draft refugee legislation in order to pursue long-term solutions to refugee problems.
The strategy to respond to the needs of Syrians affected by the crisis will be implemented within the context of the UN humanitarian plan. It will aim to build on the relationship with the SARC and adapt structures and staffing to deliver material aid and protection most effectively.
Activities have centred on the identification of affected areas, registration of displaced families and delivery of relief items, including blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits.
UNHCR has supported individual and communal shelter projects through cash assistance and rehabilitation work, respectively. It provides health care to Syrians through SARC clinics and has established community services projects among affected groups. Coordination through inter-agency sector groups helps ensure coherence and avoid duplication of effort.
Providing documentation and protection to asylum-seekers, along with emergency assistance to the most vulnerable cases, underpins UNHCR's strategy for this group. UNHCR will continue to support the authorities' efforts to prevent and reduce statelessness.
The main challenge for UNHCR in Syria is to assist people of concern in very insecure conditions. Since mid-2012, UNHCR has been working with the UN Country Team and the authorities to resolve practical and administrative obstacles in order to expand its operational space. International sanctions, combined with the impact of the conflict on industrial output, have led to shortages of medicines and domestic items.
The supply disruptions have obliged UNHCR to resort increasingly to international procurement.
Organization and implementation
UNHCR counts on its constructive relationships with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and the SARC to facilitate policy and operational coordination. Other important counterparts are the Ministries of Labour, Education, Higher Education, Health, Local Administration, and Social Affairs, as well as international NGOs and local associations. UNHCR's devolution of responsibilities to national partners engaged with refugees has been affected by the unrest, as many national partners now place less emphasis on longer-term goals.
Similarly, most of the embassies and donor representatives who had been working closely with UNHCR, including on resettlement, have suspended activities in Syria.
The UN response to the unrest within the country is set out in the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. The plan established a series of inter-agency sectoral working groups, with UNHCR leading the community-services and NFIs/shelter groups.
The signing of the negotiated 2012-2016 UN Development Assistance Framework for the Syrian Arab Republic has been put on hold, extending the duration of the current UNDAF.
Finally, UNHCR Syria continues to mobilize humanitarian stakeholders in the region and to liaise with offices in neighbouring countries on solutions for all groups of concern.
Although the overall number of refugees is declining, their needs have increased due to new and exacerbated vulnerabilities. Syrian families affected by the crisis represent a new group of concern to UNHCR, resulting in the 2013 budget being 30 per cent higher than that for 2012.
The 2013 budget for the Syrian Arab Republic will be further revised in order to cover additional needs related to the Syria crisis which could not be assessed at the time this budget was approved.
Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2013 Update
UNHCR contact information
|The UNHCR Representation in Syria|
|Style of Address||The UNHCR Representative in Syria|
|Street Address||Abdullah Bin Rawaha Street,
|Mailing Address||P. O. Box 30891
|Telephone||+963 11 213 99 61|
|Facsimile||+ 963 11 213 9929|
|Time Zone||GMT + 2:00|