Humanitarian Action Report 2007 - Homepage

MENA SYRIA

CRITICAL ISSUES FOR CHILDREN

Since the 2003 Gulf War, the Syrian Arab Republic has been host to some 450,000 Iraqi refugees, half of whom are children. Facing aggravated difficulties due to ambiguous legal status and unsustainable income, these families have limited access to public hospitals and clinics. Immunization coverage among children is low, at 65 per cent for measles and 75 per cent for polio/OPV3. A recent survey indicates a high prevalence of diarrhoea among under-five children (19 per cent). Some 1,500 families live in poverty, with 30 per cent of children aged 6-11 years not enrolled in school and often working to supplement family income. Though not yet widespread, evidence suggests that very young girls are involved in sex work, and that girls and women are being trafficked by organized networks or family members. Exposure to war and insecure situations have left many families and children traumatized.

In addition to the above, there are some 600 Palestinians from Iraq, half of them placed in Al Hol camp (north-east of Syria) and the rest are trapped in a no man’s land (Al Tanf) between Syrian and Iraqi borders since mid-May 2006. The latter are living in very precarious conditions, in tents made of blankets, lacking adequate water and sanitation facilities, medical support, and recreational/educational resources.

PLANNED HUMANITARIAN ACTION FOR 2007

Health and nutrition: In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and NGOs, UNICEF will vaccinate all children and pregnant women in targeted areas and support health centres focusing on child immunization and other child preventive care; inform 1,500 at-risk families on child and maternal health-related issues; train health and social workers on primary health care services and health education; support home visits by ‘health visitors’ and organize awareness-raising sessions in health centres; establish a network of community volunteers in targeted areas and strengthen their outreach capacity to meet the needs of underserved populations; support the implementation of a health and nutritional surveillance system. 

Education: UNICEF will enrol 1,000 children from at-risk families and cover costs of education supplies; improve equipment and educational resources of 10 primary schools; train teachers and social workers; undertake educational projects for 1,500 out-of-school children; help increase the education level of 5,000 children to match the Syrian curriculum; set up, in cooperation with NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs) and youth unions, special education and recreation spaces for children with difficulties, especially in mathematics, physics and languages; establish a network of community volunteers to reach 1,500 families with out-of-school children and raise awareness on enrolment opportunities; pursue dialogue with Ministry of Education for improved integration of Iraqi children.

Child protection: UNICEF will provide counselling services to 1,000 children at risk of sexual exploitation or involved in child labour and 1,500 distressed children; support the training on psychosocial counselling skills of experts and volunteers in NGOs/CBOs engaged in the prevention of child prostitution and labour; support the cost of psychosocial counselling services; establish educational and recreational spaces for working children and adolescents; establish information and counselling hotlines; reinforce the outreach capacity of volunteers to detect family traumas; ensure counselling skills in health centres, NGOs/CBOs in targeted areas; facilitate the establishment of an effective network of actors in child protection.

Project coordination and documentation: One national staff will be hired to ensure continuous presence in intervention sites and link with partners. Other activities will involve regular monitoring visits and field assessments on the influx and evolving needs of refugee children and mothers. Advocacy materials will be produced, such as video clips and human interest stories.

Training on emergency preparedness and response: As the recent Lebanon crisis highlighted shortfalls, particularly in terms of coordination, regular updating of national sector-based contingency plans, maintenance of information systems and provision of logistical support, UNICEF will support regular training of relevant government counterparts and partners, as well as of UNICEF staff, in the area of emergency preparedness and response.

Summary of UNICEF financial needs for 2007

Sector

US$

Health and nutrition

220,000

Education

220,000

Child protection

180,000

Project coordination and documentation

70,000

Training on emergency preparedness and response

30,000

Total

770,400

* The total includes a maximum recovery rate of 7 per cent. The actual recovery rate on contributions will be calculated in accordance with UNICEF Executive Board Decision 2006/7 dated 9 June 2006.