UNHCR-supported community centres provide protection services such as child protection activities, catch-up classes for children, psychosocial assistance, and support to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. UNHCR and partners also provide legal assistance, for instance to obtain civil documentation and register vital events like births and marriages. The services provided at the community centres are available for refugees, IDPs, returnees (i.e. refugees and internally displaced people having returned to their home areas) and host communities.
Besides the community centres, satellite centres (smaller versions of community centres providing only some services) and mobile units also offer protection services based on identified needs in underserved or remote locations. The latter respond flexibly to population movements and increase outreach to the most vulnerable populations who do not have easy access to the community or satellite centres.
The community and satellite centres are supported by a network of outreach volunteers. The outreach volunteers selected from the IDP and affected communities are the first responders and assist those in need in a timely manner. They inform communities of the services available, identify needs, provide initial support and refer cases to community centres for further assistance.
As of June 2022, UNHCR supports 126 community and satellite centres and 120 mobile units in all 14 governorates of the country and engages 2,800 outreach volunteers to strengthen its protection activities.
For refugees and asylum-seekers, UNHCR conducts refugee status determination, registration, and resettlement, when applicable. Refugees and asylum seekers can also benefit from additional protection services such as multi-purpose cash grants and scholarships for students.
UNHCR uses cash-based interventions to help the most vulnerable refugees meet their urgent needs. Vulnerability is determined using either a scoring system based on age and gender special needs or a panel review of individual protection risks. Monthly multi-purpose cash grants equivalent to around USD 120 per family are provided in cash at the counter. For urgent and unforeseen protection needs, a one-off emergency grant is also available for refugees. During the winter, eligible refugee households receive cash grants of approximately USD 340 which help them meet additional seasonal costs such as for heating.
While primary and secondary public schools are open to refugees free of charge, they need to bear some associated costs by themselves. To support the continuation of education, UNHCR provides refugee students who do not have the necessary financial means with education grants to cover transportation and education material costs. Scholarships are also provided to university students to help them cover core expenses and tuition.
Core Relief Items
UNHCR provides core relief items including blankets, sleeping mats, mattresses, jerry cans, plastic sheets, kitchen sets, and solar lamps to IDPs, returnees, and vulnerable host community members. Supplementary seasonal items such as winter clothing and rechargeable fans are also distributed to IDPs, returnees, host community members and asylum-seekers based on needs.
Infrastructure and Shelter
In camps in north-east Syria hosting mainly Iraqis and Syrian displaced persons, UNHCR distributes tents and emergency shelter kits and maintains camp infrastructure. In urban and rural areas, UNHCR helps people repair houses damaged during the years of crisis by providing materials such as doors, windows, electrical equipment and water and sanitation facilities at the household level. At the community level, UNHCR also repairs public infrastructure such as pavements and communal facilities and installs solar streetlights. In areas where spontaneous returns of IDPs and refugees are ongoing, UNHCR removes debris, repairs sewage systems, distributes solid waste bins and repairs public water networks and boreholes.
Self-Reliance and Livelihoods
UNHCR supports vulnerable people to increase self-reliance, reduce dependency on assistance and social cohesion by providing agricultural support (seeds and livestock), repairing vocational training schools and irrigation systems, and assisting people to start-up small businesses.
UNHCR has established health counselling offices in UNHCR-supported community centres in areas where health care facilities are difficult to access. Primary health care and health counselling are provided in these health offices, while in remote areas outreach volunteers and mobile teams offer these services.
With the spread of COVID-19, UNHCR Syria supported the national health system by procuring and donating critical medical equipment, such as ventilators, oxygen cylinders, and hospital beds for health facilities across the country. In addition, UNHCR fumigated and sterilized camps and collective shelters, repaired isolation and quarantine centres as well as shelters to improve hygiene conditions and installed Rubb halls to serve as quarantine/isolation sites. UNHCR also distributed personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and sanitising liquids to partner staff and health facilities.
In Syria, refugees are included in the national COVID-19 vaccination plan and eligible to receive the vaccination once registered. UNHCR trained its medical volunteers, who conduct regular health check-ups of refugees, to assist them to electronically register on the Ministry of Health COVID-19 vaccination portal in all governorates.