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NEW YORK (October 24, 2022) – “The fast pace of the cholera outbreak in Syria and Lebanon is alarming and the risks of the disease further spreading to other countries in the region call for immediate action. Urgent support is needed to respond and contain the spread of the disease.

“The acute epidemic in Syria has left over 20,000 suspected cases with acute watery diarrhea and 75 cholera associated deaths since its start . In Lebanon, confirmed cholera cases reached 448 in just two weeks, with 10 associated deaths.

“Several neighboring countries are already affected with a high number of acute watery diarrhea cases and may be at risk of cholera.

“Cholera outbreaks and acute watery diarrhea add to children’s struggles in these countries. Malnourished children are more vulnerable to develop severe cholera disease, and the cholera outbreak is yet another blow to already overstretched health systems in the region.

“Cholera doesn’t know borders and lines of control, and spreads along population movements, including displacements. In hard-hit countries, the spread of the disease is fueled by weak water and sanitation systems, poor water management, increased poverty, climate change, and conflicts – all of which make safe water more and more scarce for families and their children and reliance on unsafe water exposes them to the risk of contracting the water-borne disease.

“Since the start of the outbreak, UNICEF has been delivering lifesaving health and water, hygiene, and sanitation supplies and services to affected areas, while helping families improve their hygiene practices. Simultaneously, preparedness and response efforts are being stepped up in neighboring countries.

 “UNICEF urgently needs $40.5 million to expand its emergency cholera response in Syria and Lebanon alone. This includes support in the areas of health, water, hygiene and sanitation, risk communication and community engagement in the next three months.”

UNICEF in Action:

In Syria, UNICEF:

  • Is distributing 7 million water treatment tablets to 350,000 people in affected governorates.
  • Distributed 408 tons of sodium hypochlorite during the first two weeks of October to increase chlorine dosages and concentration. Since the beginning of the cholera response is a total 1,095 tons of sodium hypochlorite distributed, providing 13.5 million people with safe and clean water.
  • Delivered acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) kits to support treating an estimated 12,700 moderate cases and 11,700 severe AWD cases and distributed 244 kits in affected governorates.
  • Trained 438 health care workers and hygiene promotion teams, 160 religious leaders and 161 school health education officers on Interpersonal communication and community mobilization skills to prevent cholera outbreak. The social behaviour change outreach teams have engaged 159,000 people through community dialogues with influential leaders, community health workers and volunteers and 71,000 children through health education sessions in schools, while 93,161 people were reached via door-to-door visits with key messages and actions on cholera prevention in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Al Hasakeh, Al Raqqa, Damascus city and Damascus Rural.

 In Lebanon, UNICEF:

  • Distributed 98,800 liters of fuel to water pumping stations and waste-water treatment stations in locations with confirmed and suspected cholera cases
  • Procured emergency medical supplies including 150,000 Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and 40 Cholera Treatment Kits to support treatment of 5,000 cholera cases and symptoms including moderate to severe diarrhea
  • Delivered Chlorinated Trucked water, wastewater desludging and ensuring disinfection in informal settlements with suspected or confirmed cases.
  • Trained over 4,369 frontline workers and partners on cholera awareness, including transmission, symptoms, treatment, prevention and referral mechanisms.
  • Scaled up safe water deliveries and increased desludging to over 250,000 people living in informal settlements.

In Iraq, UNICEF:

  • Supported capacity strengthening of laboratories with water testing and sampling instruments to reach 1 million people, as well as scaling-up on-site chlorine generation, and advocate for establishment of local factories for chlorine.
  • Distributed 1.5 million units of ORS in affected governorates.
  • Trained over 700 frontline workers on issues ranging from water, sanitation and hygiene infection, prevention and control measures to cholera prevention messages.
  • Has been conducting social mobilization on the ground in the areas with high cases, as well as airing of awareness-raising messages across TV, radio, social media and SMS, with over 14 million people reached so far.

Learn more about how UNICEF is working to keep children safe from cholera and other waterborne diseases by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information, visit

For more information please contact:
Jenna Buraczenski, UNICEF USA, (917) 720-1432,