Unsanitary Conditions Putting Syrian Children in Peril

Soaring summer temperatures, overcrowding, and worsening sanitary conditions are the latest threats facing some four million children affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, UNICEF said today. “Without enough safe water and sanitation, the likelihood will rise that children in Syria and those living as refugees around the region will fall sick with diarrhea and other diseases,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

NEW YORK (June 24, 2013) – Soaring summer temperatures, overcrowding, and worsening sanitary conditions are the latest threats facing some four million children affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, UNICEF said today.

“Without enough safe water and sanitation, the likelihood will rise that children in Syria and those living as refugees around the region will fall sick with diarrhea and other diseases,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

In Syria, the availability of safe water is one third what it was before the crisis. Many Syrians displaced within the country are living in overcrowded shelters with insufficient access to toilets and showers. Sewage systems are damaged or overwhelmed by the increase in the displaced population.

In refugee camps like Domiz in Iraq—expanded to accommodate around 25,000 people but now hosting nearly twice that number—conditions are just as severe. And in Jordan’s Za’atari camp, the world’s second largest refugee camp (hosting more than 120,000 people), aid agencies are struggling to meet the needs of the population.

In Lebanon, more than half a million refugees are scattered in host communities and in informal tented settlements, placing increased pressure on existing water and sanitation services. Multiple families often share small apartments or live in makeshift settlements that lack access to safe water, basic toilets and waste collection. Women and children often have to walk long distances to collect water that in many cases is unfit for drinking.

As the escalating conflict triggers ever more population movement, UNICEF has accelerated efforts to provide sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services. The children’s organization has reached nearly nine million people since the beginning of the year.

In Syria itself, new generators and repaired systems are keeping water networks and purification plants operational even in areas where heavy fighting has occurred.

In Jordan, UNICEF and partners truck in more than four million liters of water a day to Za’atari while rehabilitating water infrastructure and networks in nearby towns. Water infrastructure is also being installed in a new refugee camp in Azraq, Jordan.

In Lebanon, UNICEF and partners distributed nearly 100,000 hygiene kits, including shampoo, soap and detergent—benefiting more than 430,000 people—this year.

UNICEF’s emergency response remains severely underfunded. UNICEF has received less than 40 percent of the funding it urgently needs for its lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene programs in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq this year.

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

Text: SYRIA to 864233 to donate $10.
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