With winter approaching, UNICEF has issued an urgent appeal for support for plans to provide warm clothing, blankets and other supplies and assistance to vulnerable children and families across the Middle East and North Africa.
UNICEF faces a $33 million funding gap, two-thirds of what it will take to meet the needs of more than 1 million children affected by crises in the region. The cold weather puts these children at risk of illness, even death.
UNICEF is already working to procure and deliver jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats, socks, scarves, thermal blankets and other items to children who have been uprooted by conflict, children who are displaced or trapped in wartorn areas, children living in abandoned or unfinished buildings and children in refugee camps.
A Syrian refugee child, photographed in January 2018, wearing sandals and standing in mud at an informal settlement in Haoush Harime in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. © UNICEF
"Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families' financial resources to almost nothing," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Staying warm has simply become unaffordable."
Children caught in crises in Syria and elsewhere have grown weak from lack of nutritious food and health care, which makes them prone to hypothermia and dangerous respiratory ailments, Cappelaere added. "Without help to protect them from the freezing weather, these children are likely to face dire consequences."
Without help to protect them from the freezing weather, these children are likely to face dire consequences.
This winter UNICEF aims to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Turkey and Egypt with the winter kits, safe drinking water, sanitation, health and hygiene support, and cash asistance to help families cover the cost of heating fuel and other necessities.
UNICEF and partners are working tirelessly in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Bangladesh and around the world to save and protect children. With a presence in 190 countries, UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world.
Top photo: Lama, 9, is one of more than 63,000 children living in the Za'atari camp and Azraq settlement for Syrian refugees who benefited from UNICEF's winter support program last year. Her family received cash assistance to purchase warm sweaters and other items. ©UNICEF/UN0204512/Herwig