The data, which accompany a revised UN funding appeal for the response to the crisis across the region, shows that 6.5 million Syrian children—an increase of more than two million compared to last year—now need immediate humanitarian assistance, whether inside the country or living as refugees.
“These figures confirm the devastating impact this conflict is having on the lives of Syria’s children,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Children are seeing their homes, schools, health centers and communities targeted and destroyed. Millions of dreams and hopes are being shattered. This is no time for the world to look away.”
It’s a sense of loss and fear that Syrian children themselves continue to convey vividly. Ala’a*, a 13- year old boy from the northwestern city of Aleppo who now lives as a refugee in Turkey, told a UNICEF staff member: “We left our village to escape the bombing. We drove for three hours to get close to the border and once night fell, we walked another three hours to cross into Turkey. There were many checkpoints along the way. I saw people carrying guns and I was scared.”
The violence, coupled with repeated displacement, mounting evidence of disease outbreaks including polio and measles and a breakdown of vital services like water, sanitation and education, are prompting UNICEF to redouble its efforts to reach as many children as possible inside war-torn Syria and in the neighboring countries.
In Syria so far this year, despite huge obstacles due to ongoing violence and access restrictions, UNICEF and its partners have helped provide safe water for nearly 17 million people, and is supporting the vaccination of 2.9 million children against polio, as part of an unprecedented regional immunization campaign targeting 25 million children. Meanwhile, as part of efforts to meet the basic needs of children directly affected by the conflict, UNICEF has provided 114,000 children with educational materials and 34,000 children with psychological support.
But lack of funding threatens UNICEF’s ability to continue providing lifesaving assistance to the children of Syria. The agency’s current funding gap is US$ 487 million for emergency programs inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
“We are very grateful to our donors who have been extremely generous. But without fresh resources, our operations—including life-saving water and sanitation interventions for refugees in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan—will inevitably be interrupted and some might be completely stopped,” said Calivis.
*Name has been changed
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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, firstname.lastname@example.org