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UNICEF Scales up Emergency Response to Meet Increasing Needs of Children Affected by Crisis in Syria

NEW YORK (September 6, 2012) — Thousands of Syrian children are being screened to prevent malnutrition as part of a regional response to meet the growing health and nutrition needs of an estimated 1.3 million children affected by the ongoing crisis, including children inside Syria and in surrounding countries.

The nutrition screening in the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan is taking place as part of a weekly immunization clinic in the camp. UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partner agencies, is also launching a large-scale polio and measles vaccination campaign targeting more than 100,000 children in Za’atari, nearby transit centers, and communities hosting refugees in northern Jordan.

“Conflict has disrupted health services across Syria so most refugee children and their families have not had access to routine immunizations or other basic health services,” says UNICEF Middle East Regional Health Advisor Mahendra Sheth. “This work is vital because during a crisis children are most vulnerable to disease outbreaks and malnutrition, especially children living in camp settings like Za’atari.”

Under extremely difficult conditions, UNICEF and local partners in Syria are also reaching families sheltering in schools across Damascus with life-saving medical care. Eight mobile medical teams will be dispatched to reach 175,000 people in many regions hardest hit by the ongoing conflict, including Aleppo, Damascus, Dara’a, Hama and Homs. Rapid assessments to monitor the nutritional situation of children will also be scaled up in Damascus and surrounding areas.

In Lebanon and Iraq, where more than 40,000 and 15,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering respectively, immunizations are being provided and the nutritional status of children five years of age and under is being monitored closely.

“The health and nutrition needs of Syrian children across the region are rapidly increasing so we must act now to ensure they are protected,” says UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director Maria Calivis.

UNICEF is appealing to the international community for increased funding of its emergency water, sanitation, education, health and nutrition programs, which are reaching tens of thousands of Syrian children and their families in Syria and neighboring countries.

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 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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