A young girl in Al-Waer, Homs, Syria, carries a box of winter clothes provided by UNICEF.

UNICEF in Syria

The scale, severity and complexity of the humanitarian needs in Syria are extensive — now even more so in the wake of a devastating earthquake. 

Syria in crisis

UNICEF's emergency response to the February 2023 earthquakes that struck both Syria and Türkiye (Turkey), killing tens of thousands of people and displacing millions more, is an extension of UNICEF's ongoing humanitarian operations in the country.

Children in Syria have been living under the constant threat of violence, deprivation and extreme emotional duress since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011. Many homes, schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities in Syria had already been destroyed, and millions of children and families had been uprooted by fighting. Families were already struggling — and continue to struggle — to afford food and other basics.

Millions of Syria's children have been living as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye for years. For those who remain inside the country, displacement has become a way of life.

The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 created a crisis on top of a crisis, further eroding access to essential services and hitting children and families extremely hard.

More than half the population — over 11 million people, including 6.1 million children — require humanitarian assistance. The scale, severity and complexity of their needs are extensive — and now even more so in the quake's aftermath.

How UNICEF is helping children in Syria 

UNICEF is on the ground in Syria collaborating with partners to meet children's needs, providing health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and protection services.

UNICEF continues to deliver for children and families with the greatest needs, focusing on:

  • ensuring affected children and families have access to safe drinking water and sanitation services
  • identifying separated and unaccompanied children and working to reunite them with family, as well as providing mental health and psychosocial support
  • ensuring children are able to get back into the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so
  • delivering emergency medical supplies and nutrition supplies such as high-energy biscuits

Other ongoing programs and interventions in Syria seek to:

  • strengthen lifesaving and preventative nutrition services, including treatment for acute malnutrition and safe and appropriate infant and young child feeding practices
  • vaccinate children against measles and polio, including those living in hard-to-reach areas, and strengthen infection prevention and control at the community level
  • distribute hygiene kits and promoting safe hygiene practices
  • support children's education and teacher training
  • provide specialized services for survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse
  • expand social protection for the poorest families through cash transfers
  • expand life-skills programs, vocational education and entrepreneurship training for adolescents and young people

Having grown up amid violence, displacement and loss in rural Aleppo, Kinda, 7, below, far left, and her siblings are picking up the pieces of their lives — catching up on their learning at a UNICEF-supported school, receiving psychosocial support and getting educated about the dangers of land mines:

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