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As Refugee Crisis Escalates, Syrian Children in Jordan Need Urgent Support

NEW YORK (August 27, 2012) – UNICEF is urgently appealing for additional funds to meet the emergency health, protection, and water and sanitation needs of a growing number of Syrian refugee children and their families arriving in Jordan.

Some 17,000 people—half of them children—are sheltering at Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan, but numbers are increasing daily with hundreds of new arrivals from Syria. UNICEF is appealing for $54 million to cover the emergency needs of these Syrian refugees sheltering in Za’atari camp and surrounding communities.

There was a significant increase in the number of arrivals at the camp this past weekend with more than 2,000 people crossing the border in a single night. This number is nearly 80% higher than the previous largest number of Syrians crossing into Jordan within a 24-hour period.

“We expect to have 70,000 people at Za’atari camp by the end of this year,” said UNICEF Jordan Representative Dominique Hyde. “We must act now because it is children who continue to suffer most. So more funding is urgently required to scale-up our emergency response activities.”

Conditions at Za’atari camp are harsh, with scorching temperatures, no natural shade, and frequent sandstorms that rip through the camp.

UNICEF is leading the emergency water and sanitation response, trucking in enough water to provide 13 gallons per person a day. With new families continuing to swell the camp population, UNICEF is constructing a well as a more sustainable water source. The installation of new toilets, showers and taps in the camp is also underway.

As the number of children increases, so does the risk of disease outbreaks. This week, UNICEF is partnering with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to immunize children under five, many of whom will have missed routine vaccinations due to the violence in Syria. UNICEF is working with partners to establish a regular vaccination program at the camp.

UNICEF is also supporting distressed children who need special care after experiencing extreme levels of violence in Syria. UNICEF supports ten Child Friendly Spaces where children can play, learn, restore their routines and receive psychosocial support. UNICEF is also identifying and caring for children who fled Syria without their parents or family.

“Children fleeing violence in Syria are at risk of suffering long-term distress without appropriate care,” said Hyde. “Right now the Child Friendly Spaces are sufficient for 2,500 children in Za’atari. In just a few months, we expect as many as 35,000 children will be at the camp, so we urgently need to provide additional safe places and other support to protect these children who have already suffered so much.”

How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:
Website: www.unicefusa.org/syria
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, the U.S. Fund will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org

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