Civilians and pro-government forces walk down the destroyed Thalateen Street in the YarmOuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus on May 24, 2018, after the regime seized the camp. (Photo: AFP)
After ten years of conflict, Palestine refugees continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups in Syria with immense humanitarian needs.
As a new year has come by, Palestinian refugees in Syria (PRS) continue to launch cries for help over their deteriorating humanitarian condition due to the sharp decrease in the exchange rate of the Syrian pound compared to the USD and their lack of access to the local labor market.
The price leap has overburdened the cash-stripped refugees. House rents have also seen a striking hike from previous years.
The refugees continue to urge UN bodies and all other concerned parties to increase financial aid, help the displaced families return to their refugee camps, and provide much-needed relief services for Palestine refugees.
Scores of Palestinian refugees in/from Syria have been chased down, arrested, and/or subjected to extra-judicial executions over political grounds.
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 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.
Over recent months, AGPS has warned of an unabated outbreak of COVID-19 in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, where limited access to running water, pharmacies and medical facilities means displacement camps are more susceptible to the spread of the highly infectious virus.
Displacement camps set up in northern Syria are especially vulnerable as most hospitals and medical facilities have been bombed, rendering them out of order.
AGPS stresses the need to supply Palestinian refugee camps with medicines, detergents, and disinfectants in order to help the displaced communities defend themselves against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
COVID-19 is also increasingly bringing education to a halt for many of Syria’s children, including Palestinian refugee children, after nearly ten years of conflict, displacement and poverty, as an estimated half of the children that were going to school in North Syria before the COVID-19 outbreak have now dropped out.