A generation of Syrian children at risk as conflict enters third year - UNICEF

The unrelenting violence, massive population displacement, and damage to infrastructure and essential services caused by the Syrian conflict risk leaving an entire generation of children scarred for life, according to a UNICEF report issued today. “As millions of children inside Syria and across the region witness their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them becoming a lost generation grows every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

More than 2 million children affected across the region

NEW YORK (March 12, 2013) – The unrelenting violence, massive population displacement, and damage to infrastructure and essential services caused by the Syrian conflict risk leaving an entire generation of children scarred for life, according to a UNICEF report issued today.

“As millions of children inside Syria and across the region witness their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them becoming a lost generation grows every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

The report – marking the two-year point in the Syria crisis -- says that in areas where the fighting is most intense access to water has fallen by two-thirds resulting in increased skin and respiratory diseases, while one in five schools has been destroyed, damaged, or is being used to shelter displaced families. In Aleppo, for example, only 6 percent of children are currently attending school. Classes that still function are sometimes crammed with as many as 100 children.

Hospitals and health centers have been wrecked and their skilled staff has fled.

Meanwhile children are suffering the trauma of seeing family members and friends killed, while being terrified by the sounds and scenes of conflict.

“We urge all parties to allow unhindered access to children affected by the violence – wherever they are,” said Mr. Lake. “We can only meet the growing needs of this crisis if we get the help we need today.”

Since the start of the crisis, the response by UNICEF and its partners has focused on providing drinking water and sanitation, health, education and child protection services to families displaced inside Syria and to refugee populations across the region.

As a result, 4 million people inside the country now have access to safe drinking water, while mobile health teams have helped take measles and polio vaccinations to 1.5 million children. Some 75,000 affected children are enrolled in schools and school clubs where they can catch up on their lost education and rediscover the semblance of a normal childhood.

In Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, UNICEF assists more than 300,000 refugee children with services such as safe water, adequate sanitation, education, specialist care and protection from exploitation and abuse.

However, these efforts are threatened by a critical shortage of funding. In December 2012, UNICEF appealed for US$195 million for life-saving assistance for Syrian children and their families until June 2013. To date, the appeal is less than 20 percent funded.

How to help

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF’s relief efforts, 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