The vast majority of the 540,000 Palestine refugees registered in Syria (PRS) are unable to meet their basic needs.
At a time when the US has been intensifying sanctions as part of the so-called “Caesar Act”, targeting anyone doing business with the Assad regime, thousands of Palestinian refugees continue to struggle for survival in the war-torn country, both in government-held and opposition-captured zones.
Last Wednesday, the Trump administration ramped up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle with a load of new economic and travel sanctions for human rights abuses and blocking a settlement of the country's conflict.
The State Department and the Treasury said 39 Syrian individuals, including al-Assad and his wife, had been designated for the new sanctions.
Others include members of the extended al-Assad family, senior military leaders and business executives. Many of those on the list were already subject to US sanctions, but the penalties also target non-Syrians who do business with them.
The sanctions are the result of legislation known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, named after the pseudonym of a Syrian who worked with the military police and turned over photographs of thousands of victims of torture by al-Assad's government.
The implementation of the sanctions has led to a further deterioration of the exchange rate of the Syrian pound, resulting in a worse economic situation for vulnerable families whose sole sources of income have been already affected by the bloody warfare.
Nine years into the deadly conflict, the majority of PRS continue to live below the poverty line and are food insecure.
Even after the latest salary increase, a civil servant in Syria receives no more than 27 USD per month, a sum that fails to meet the basic needs of the cash-stripped families. A family needs a minimum of 150 USD per every single month in Syria to be able to purchase food items.
A UN report in 2019 said that an estimated 83 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, and people are increasingly vulnerable due to the loss or lack of sustained livelihoods.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in its 2020 Syria regional crisis emergency appeal that 126,000 Palestine refugees in Syria (PRS) are identified as extremely vulnerable; 89% live in poverty; 91% live in extreme poverty; and 80% rely on UNRWA cash assistance as their main source of income.
UNRWA also said that 55% of PRS do not possess valid legal residency documents; 100% of PRS are in need of winterization assistance; and 86% of PRS households are reported to be in debt.
The majority of Palestinians sheltered in displacement camps set up across the Syrian territories have remained at bay from political calculations and frequently refused attempts by all warring parties to drag them into the raging warfare, saying their priority is to secure safe shelters for their children and families pending a just and lasting solution to their refugee plight and return to their motherland—Palestine.