Map of Syria
UNICEF photo © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1125/Khabieh

Syrian Arab Republic

UNICEF is requesting US$279 million to meet the humanitarian needs of crisis-affected children in Syria.


In 2015, UNICEF and partners plan for:
Over 2.3 million

IDPs provided access to appropriate toilet facilities

1.6 million

children and adolescents accessing self-learning and non-formal education through Community Learning Centres


children accessing psychosocial support services in communities, schools and mobile outreaches

2015 Requirements: US$279,206,640

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Total affected population: 12.2 million
Total affected children: 5.6 million

Total people to be reached in 2015: 4.2 million
Total children to be reached in 2015: 2.9 million

The numbers of conflict-affected people in Syria have increased twelve fold since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, with 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 5.6 million children as of December 2014, making it the largest displacement crisis globally. Almost half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, many suffering secondary or multiple displacements. Over 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria, and their coping mechanisms as well as those of host communities are all but exhausted. Of the total population in need, an estimated 4.8 million people are located in hard-to-reach areas, and receive humanitarian aid irregularly. The conflict is marked by human rights violations, the use of sieges as a weapon of war, indiscriminate attacks against densely populated areas and targeting of civilian infrastructure – these violations continue to occur in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Protracted conflict has had a devastating impact on infrastructure. Water and sanitation (WASH) services are limited by shortages of power and sanctions preventing water authorities from accessing spare parts and treatment chemicals. The drought in 2014 and resulting water scarcity have compounded these issues, depleting ground water and water production. There are 11.6 million people in urgent need of continuous access to water and sanitation.

As WASH systems and services have deteriorated, the incidence of water-borne diseases has gone up. In 2014, Typhoid fever outbreaks and a significant increase in diarrheal diseases were registered.

Only 43 per cent of hospitals are fully functioning, and 24 per cent of schools have been damaged, destroyed or are used as shelters, resulting in 2 million children not attending school or attending school irregularly. Over 1,200 grave violations against children have been documented and verified, including 80 attacks on schools, 560 medical personnel have been killed since 2011, and 200 health facilities attacked.

Rapid Nutrition Assessments among IDP populations in 13 governorates in 2014 indicate a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate of 7.2 per cent and a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate of 2.3 per cent in internally displaced populations (IDPs). Population groups considered most vulnerable to malnutrition include IDPs, children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, and 2.4 million children under five are at risk of under-nutrition.

The conflict has negatively impacted upon the effectiveness of protection institutions and family structures, increasing the vulnerability of the displaced and host communities. Palestinian refugees are disproportionately affected by the conflict, with 64 per cent of registered Palestine refugees now displaced.

Humanitarian strategy

2015 Programme Targets


  • Continued functionality of national piped water network, reaching an estimated 16.5 million people
  • Over 2.3 million IDPs provided access to appropriate toilet facilities


  • 2.9 million children under five vaccinated against polio and 2.7 million children vaccinated against measles
  • 1.3 million children under five and women reached with an integrated package of health services


  • 21,000 children treated for severe acute malnutrition
  • 370,000 children receive complementary foods and lipid-based supplements
  • 1 million people (pregnant and lactating women, and children) reached with micronutrients


  • 1.6 million children and adolescents accessing self-learning and non-formal education through Community Learning Centres
  • 2.8 million children reached with Back to Learning supplies

Child protection

  • 385,000 children accessing psychosocial support services in communities, schools and mobile outreaches
  • 3,600 child protection actors receive capacity-building to meet the needs of most vulnerable children

Basic needs

  • 500,000 children receive seasonal clothing, and 25,000 vulnerable families receive cash support to procure clothing

UNICEF’s humanitarian strategy is in line with the inter-agency 2015 Strategic Response Plan for Syria. UNICEF leads the WASH, Education and Nutrition sectors, and the Child Protection Working Group, and is an active partner in the health and basic needs sectors. Under the Whole of Syria (WoS) approach UNICEF will work with sector partners to coordinate the response reaching the most vulnerable people in need, including by providing humanitarian support in hard-to-reach and inaccessible areas.

UNICEF will continue to support the operation of national piped water systems, reaching an estimated 16.5 million people with access to safe water. This includes provision of water treatment chemicals and continued operations and maintenance of systems, such as generators, fuel and repair when systems break down or are damaged, as well as providing alternative sources for existing water supply systems. UNICEF will continue to support the most vulnerable families with humanitarian WASH interventions including water trucking, emergency latrines and hygiene materials. Immunization remains one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks. To ensure polio and measles outbreaks are contained, national immunization campaigns will continue in 2015, including supporting immunization teams to access hard-to-reach areas nationwide. UNICEF will continue to support primary health centres and mobile clinics with human resources, essential medicines and equipment. To respond to reports of acute malnutrition, families will be reached nationwide with essential information on infant and young child feeding practices. In addition, micronutrients will be provided and malnourished children will receive screening and treatment.

No Lost Generation activities will continue to be scaled up. UNICEF will invest in improving the quality of education for IDP and host community children in school including through teacher training, improvements to school infrastructure, and provision of essential school materials and textbooks. UNICEF will also target out-of-school children through self-learning and Community Learning Centres. Interventions to reach adolescents will also be scaled up, including through vocational education. Psychosocial support services (PSS) for crisis-affected children and adolescents will continue at scale, including through Child and Adolescent Friendly Spaces and mobile outreach, as well as through school-based activities and innovative community-based PSS programming. Capacity on monitoring and reporting on grave child rights violations (MRM) will continue to be developed. Specialised services will be provided to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable children, including family tracing and reunification and provision of alternative care and support for separated and unaccompanied children, as well as case management for children who have survived specific abuses.

Results from 2014

Despite an extraordinarily challenging operating environment, characterised by widespread armed conflict and severe hindrances to humanitarian access, UNICEF and partners delivered lifesaving assistance to millions of people inside Syria in 2014. With 58 per cent (USD 113 million) of the USD 194 million appeal available by mid-November, 2014, the response focused on meeting the immediate humanitarian needs of the Syrian population.

UNICEF supported the continued operation of water distribution networks nationwide, benefitting some 16.5 million people with safe water through water treatment supplies, fuel and generators to ensure sustained operation of pumping stations. UNICEF’s rapid provision of generators for pumping stations, and support to timely repairs of piped networks and other damaged water facilities, helped avert serious water shortages that could have led to the spread of life-threatening diseases, including diarrhoea, typhoid, and polio. UNICEF supported over 2 million people with access to clean and safe drinking water including through water tankering and supplies for household water treatment. UNICEF also distributed hygiene kits, alongside hygiene promotion, benefitting some 750,000 people.

The prevention and treatment of communicable diseases was a major priority for health partners in 2014. UNICEF, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and national institutions, supported eight national and one sub-national polio immunization campaigns in 2014, reaching over 2.9 million children nationwide (88 to 93 per cent of the target), including in hard-to-reach areas. Over 846,000 children were vaccinated for measles in 2014, with all children receiving vitamin-A supplementation. Over 480,000 people, including IDP children, benefited from access to primary health care services and essential medical supplies through continuous functioning of mobile and primary health clinics. Nutrition sector capacity increased with 24 partners operational in Syria at year end, up from 11 at the beginning of 2014. Some 221,263 children were screened for malnutrition and 898 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF scaled up activities under the No Lost Generation strategy. In partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, UNICEF reached over 2 million children, including over 200,000 children in hard-to-reach areas, with education supplies through the 2014/15 ‘Back to Learning’ Campaign. UNICEF supported some 300,000 out of 2 million out-of-school children to access non-formal education, providing them a sense of normality as well as support to return to the formal education system. UNICEF printed 2.5 million self-learning textbooks for children in grades 1-6, as local printing facilities are no longer operational. UNICEF also supported 280,000 children and adolescents to access psychosocial support through a range of fixed, mobile and outreach activities, such as Child and Adolescent Friendly Spaces. Over 260,000 children participated in information sessions on the risks of explosive remnants of war.

UNICEF delivered humanitarian relief to populations in hard-to-access areas, with inter-agency convoys reaching almost 1 million people across lines in 2014, ensuring the most vulnerable received lifesaving WASH, health, education and nutrition supplies.

Funding requirements

As part of the inter-agency 2015 Syria Response Plan, UNICEF is appealing for US$279 million to meet the humanitarian needs of crisis-affected children in Syria. These funds will allow UNICEF to continue supporting the Whole of Syria approach to provide humanitarian response to children living in all areas where humanitarian needs are most acute, including in hard-to-reach areas.