Members of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) disinfect buildings and tents where Palestinian and Syrian families live collectively in Idlib, Syria on 24 March 2020. (Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency)
As the coronavirus pandemic has rebounded around the MENA region and the globe, Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria continue to struggle with growing poverty and economic hardship.
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) have lost their jobs in the warfare and hundreds more have been wondering in the streets as they rummaged around for livelihoods to feed their starved families.
Most of Palestinian families in Syria depend on UNRWA’s aids as they struggle for survival in the embattled Syrian territories.
However, the refugees’ needs far outlive the cash/in-kind aids sporadically handed over to them by UNRWA, among a handful of other relief institutions operating in the Syrian territories.
The crisis in Syria has been one of the gravest and most demanding emergencies faced in the modern era. The vast majority of the 540,000 PRS are unable to meet their basic needs.
Many PRS lost their sources of income; refugee camps have seen unprecedented levels of destruction; rental prices have dramatically gone up; undernourishment and poverty have been a daily nightmare.
Due to the serious protection gaps, children have been forced to drop out of school and join armed groups to help feed their starving families.
Hundreds of families have had women as their sole breadwinners; and in several other cases boys and girls are spotted begging in the street for a few pounds.
UNRWA said in its 2020 Syria regional crisis emergency appeal that 126,000 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 and 86% of PRS households are reported to be in debt.
Hundreds of PRS also have risked their lives onboard “death-boats” bound for Europe, fleeing prosecution and economic hardship.