• On July 28, intensive shelling and intensified ground clashes were reported in the Dara’a Al-Balad neighborhood in Dera’a Governorate, southern Syria, after weeks of growing tensions. According to OHCHR, the hostilities left eight civilians dead, including a woman, a girl and three boys, and six injured.
• As many as 24,000 people, including internally displaced persons and Palestinian refugees, have reportedly been displaced to the city of Daraa and its surroundings. Dara’a National Hospital was also hit by four mortar shells that destroyed a water tank, temporarily rendering the dialysis unit non-functional.
• Violent clashes continued to be reported in the villages of Tafas, Mzeirib and Yadoudeh in western Daraa on July 30, with tensions also spreading to other neighboring areas such as Jasim and Ash-Shajara and Al- Hrak, Um AlMaiathen and Saïda. A humanitarian partner was at the Saraya crossing point to provide assistance to those in need until the afternoon of July 29, but reportedly withdrew staff due to insecurity.
• As of July 30, two crossing roads in Sijneh and Saraya have been officially closed, but the Saraya crossing point is said to be open to pedestrians. As of August 2, reports indicate that sporadic clashes and indirect artillery fire continue around the Dara’a Al-Balad neighborhood. At the local level, efforts on several fronts are underway to ease tensions and avoid further hostilities.
• In response, humanitarian partners are providing emergency assistance to displaced people and affected communities in and around Daraa town, including ready-to-eat rations, medicine and health supplies, dignity kits, basic relief items and WASH, nutrition and protection Support. Partners continue to implement existing programs in other sub-districts of Dera’a governorate where the security situation allows.
• The humanitarian community continues to advocate with all parties to facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance to all affected areas and communities, including directly Dara’a Al-Balad.
About 55,000 people reside in Dar’a Al-Balad, a district of the city of Dera’a. The current clashes follow weeks of tension in the region, the deployment of additional security personnel and increased access restrictions, although general food distributions were completed for 39,000 people by mid-July. At present, one road – Dar’a Al-Balad – Sijneh – remains open to civil and commercial traffic and to local markets and two bakeries are operational.
HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND RESPONSE
About 24,000 people have been displaced from Dara’a Al-Balad. The majority are hosted by the local community, but more than 700 people (around 140 families) have settled in two collective shelters – That Al-Nitaqein (500) and Hettin (219) schools. A third collective shelter has been identified in case of need but is currently empty.
In response, humanitarian partners are providing multisectoral assistance, including food, health, nutrition, WASH, S / NFI and protection. On July 31, WFP dispatched 1,500 WFP rations to the town of Daraa, sufficient to meet the needs of 7,500 people for a week. 1,000 additional RTEs will be sent in the coming days. At the Tishreen Bakery located in the Palestinian camp on the outskirts of Dara’a Al-Balad which WFP rehabilitated in early 2021, bread production is currently underway, but the wheat flour allocation has decreased to 1 , 5 to 2 MT compared to around 15 MT earlier in June. The reduction in wheat flour should allow an increase in production in bakeries in the city of Dera’a where demands are currently higher due to the influx of displaced people.
WHO sent 7.6 MT of medical supplies to Dara’a National Hospital (3.9 MT) and Dara’a Health Authority (3.7 MT). The items, which include drugs, surgical supplies and intravenous fluids, arrived in Daraa on August 2 and are sufficient to cover around 63,400 treatments and 830 trauma cases. UNICEF finalized its plans to deliver 9.5 MT of health and nutritional supplies to the Dara’a Health Authority and the local partner NGO Al-Birr on August 3, including 200 pediatric kits, 6 complete kits of midwives, 4 acute watery diarrhea kits, 400 boxes of energy biscuits and 2,500 sachets of micronutrient powder (for children). Since July 28, UNICEF has supported two NGOs – Al Birr and the Syrian Family Planning Association – to conduct around 82 outpatient consultations for children and women. Al Birr further supported surgeries for the displaced, including five cesarean sections, two gynecologic surgeries, 13 tonsillectomy surgeries and one hysterectomy surgery. On August 1, UNFPA also sent female, male and adolescent dignity kits for 900 people, including 500 women, 200 men and 200 adolescent girls, to the Syrian family planning association SFPA in the city of Daraa. Health partners remain on standby with an ambulance to transport the injured to Dara’a National Hospital or the nearest health facility as needed, while UNICEF and NGO partners have also put in place. sets up a temporary clinic to receive patients in the city of Dara’a. Mobile medical teams also provide primary health care in the two groups and carry out PB screenings for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Currently, drinking water is available in the neighborhoods of Dara’a Al-Balad through piped water twice a week. WASH needs in the two collective shelters are also covered by SARC and the Dara’a Water Authority through water transport by truck. Additional plans are being put in place to strengthen the drinking water supply in the area (through water trucking activities and the maintenance and repair of water networks in host communities), as well as promoting hygiene and community engagement for behavioral and social change (through the distribution of hygiene kits and hygiene awareness campaigns).
Protection support is also provided to affected communities. Currently, a community center is open in the town of Daraa, although the number of people accessing it remains relatively low due to persistent insecurity and difficulties in getting around. Child protection activities, including identification of unaccompanied and separated children and case management, as well as sensitization sessions on prevention of family separation and mine risk education (through distribution of leaflets and brochures) began on August 2. UNHCR and partners have confirmed that the distribution of essential items to internally displaced persons and affected populations has started; collective shelter needs assessments are also planned.
For more information, please contact:
Liny Suharlim, Acting Office Manager, OCHA Syria, [email protected]
Katherine Carey, Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA Syria, [email protected]