NEW YORK (February 19, 2013) – In the face of intensifying violence and significant funding gaps, UNICEF is stepping up relief efforts in Syria, aiming to reach an increasing number of the more than four million people known to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
At least half of the total affected population is made up of children. Many have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict. They are living in collective shelters with few belongings, often lacking the most basic needs.
“Even as the situation deteriorates, UNICEF has managed to expand its operations to deliver essential relief supplies like blankets, children’s clothes, hygiene items, plastic sheets, and high-energy biscuits,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Syria. “Many of these deliveries were made as part of recent cross-line operations.”
“With the security situation as it is currently, it’s been a huge challenge to be able to reach some of these areas,” said Abdel-jelil. “But thanks to the efforts of our partners and our own staff on the ground, we have succeeded in making real progress.”
Most recently, UNICEF was part of an inter-agency mission, which on Saturday delivered the first batch of critical, life-saving relief items to 6,000 displaced people in Karameh, in Syria’s north-western Idleb Province.
Some of the cities reached in the past three weeks have experienced prolonged and severe conflict. In the northern city of Aleppo, for example, UNICEF and its local partners have distributed 45,000 blankets and quilts—items that are desperately needed.
In Deir Ez-Zor, Al-Hasaka, Homs, Idleb, Al-Raqqa and Damascus, some 90,000 blankets were distributed to children and their families, along with 14,000 plastic sheets and more than 10,000 sets of children’s clothes. In Tartus and Homs, UNICEF reached 7,000 children with 176 school-in-a-carton kits, which contain educational materials.
The latest supply deliveries coincide with an ongoing operation to deliver 1,000 metric tons of water treatment supplies to Syria. Chlorine is needed to ensure that water reaching an estimated 10 million people in different parts of the country remains safe to drink, and to avoid the risk of water-borne disease. UNICEF estimates that due to the destruction of water infrastructure, water availability in some areas has dropped to a third of pre-conflict levels.
Lack of funding remains a major impediment to UNICEF’s ability to scale up its humanitarian response. The agency is appealing for $68 million to provide urgent humanitarian assistance in Syria for water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, and psychosocial support. So far, less than 20 percent of that amount has been received.
Since the crisis in Syria began in March 2011, UNICEF has vaccinated 1.3 million children against measles; enrolled 35,000 children in learning programs, provided more than 26,000 people with drinking water, and reached 32,000 children with psychosocial support.
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:
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.
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.