Syrian Arab Republic Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
Syrian Arab Republic snapshot
- Children throughout the Syrian Arab Republic face one of the world's most complex emergencies, including the multiple earthquakes that hit parts of Syria and Türkiye on 6 February 2023, which resulted in more people in urgent need of water, sanitation, shelter, food, and emergency medical and psychosocial assistance. More than 15.3 million people (including 7 million children) require assistance, and 6.8 million people are internally displaced. Almost 70 per cent of the population requires assistance due to a worsening economic crisis, localized hostilities, mass displacement and devastated public infrastructure.
- In 2023, UNICEF will deliver lifesaving services that address recovery needs with its partners and through its field offices, fostering the resilience of children and families. UNICEF will address the needs of girls, boys, adolescents, and families through integrated gender-responsive programming prioritizing high-severity areas, social and behavioural change interventions, and by systematizing preparedness, accountability to affected populations and the prevention of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
- UNICEF requires US$468.5 million to meet the needs of children in the Syrian Arab Republic in 2023. The greatest funding requirements are for WASH, health, and education, as these sectors need investment in restoration and rehabilitation as a result of the earthquake, while protection remains a high priority for UNICEF.
Key planned results for 2023
2.4 million children and women accessing primary health care
1.6 million primary caregivers receiving infant and young child feeding counselling
2.6 million children supported with educational services and supplies in formal settings
5.3 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Children in the Syrian Arab Republic continue to face one of the most complex emergencies in the world. Over two-thirds of the population require assistance because of a worsening economic crisis, continued localized hostilities, mass displacement, devastated public infrastructure, and the effects of the earthquakes. The 15.3 million people in need include 4.5 million women, 7 million children (3.2 million girls), 2.6 million people with disabilities and 5.3 million internally displaced people. Over half of the displaced people are in North-West Syria.
The cholera outbreak declared in September 2022 continues to spread across the country, with 105,959 suspected cases and 104 attributed deaths reported between 25 August 2022 and March 2023. The outbreak is a result of the large-scale destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, the economic crisis, electricity outages, and prolonged drought. Up to 52 per cent of the population are relying on often unsafe alternative water supply modalities other than piped water to meet or complement their needs; one million fewer people are using water networks than in 2021 due to decreased reliability and efficiency of water systems.
The severity of humanitarian needs in Syria was further exacerbated by the multiple earthquakes that hit parts of Syria and Türkiye on 6 February. Approximately 6,000 people, including children, have reportedly been killed and more than 12,000 injured across Syria as a result of the earthquake.
People in Syria are sliding deeper into poverty and finding it overwhelmingly difficult to make ends meet, whilst 55 per cent are food insecure. The war in Ukraine continues to affect global supply chains and inflationary trends. Approximately 3.75 million children were in dire need of nutritional assistance, which became even more vital following the earthquake and all its implications on the key determinants of maternal and child nutrition (Food, health and WASH sectors. Over 7,000 schools have been damaged or destroyed and only 57 per cent of health centres are fully functional. There are over 2 million children out of school and 1.6 million at risk of dropping out. Furthermore, over 60 per cent of school-age children with severe mental or physical disabilities have never attended school or any other form of education.
Protection concerns remain paramount. In 2022, 2,438 grave violations were recorded against children, including recruitment, killing, and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals. The economic crisis is worsening negative coping mechanisms and particularly affecting female-headed households; it is contributing to the normalization of gender-based violence and child labour and marriage, which predominantly affects girls and boys. Eighty-four per cent of communities surveyed reported child marriage (often affecting girls) and 96 per cent reported that children are working (often affecting boys).
Ninety-one per cent of the 4.5 million people living in the northwest are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.9 million internally displaced people. Food insecurity affects 3.3 million people inthe area, and more than 1 million children are in need of education support. Furthermore, some 2.4 million children are in need of child protection support in northwest Syria following the earthquakes.
In the northeast, political and conflict dynamics drive elevated protection concerns and complicate aid delivery. Among those affected are internally displaced people in Al-Hol camp (53,000 people, 64 per cent children) and Al-Roj camp (2,500 people, 66 per cent children), including children who are third-country nationals and need repatriation to their countries of origin.
UNICEF programme follows a Whole of Syria approach and prioritizes areas that have been identified as high severity. UNICEF leads the Education, Nutrition, and WASH Sectors/Clusters and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility. In January 2023, the Security Council resolution on cross-border access from Türkiye to North-West Syria was extended for six months.
UNICEF is gradually incorporating early recovery programming while maintaining a strong focus on humanitarian assistance, which also includes cholera and earthquake response. Working along this nexus strengthens linkages between the needs-based emergency response and essential service restoration, resilience building, and social cohesion. For example, following the earthquakes UNICEF alongside partners, scaled up lifesaving assistance to affected children and families and made a strategic shift in the response, moving towards supporting people recover, through the rehabilitationof damaged infrastructure and restoration of basic services.
UNICEF and its implementing partners will promote multisectoral collaboration to address the underlying determinants of malnutrition, and facilitate the delivery of life-saving preventive and curative interventions at the facility and community levels in the most affected areas. In parallel, support will be extended to rebuild local health systems and improve the coverage of the expanded programme on immunization. Emergency WASH services will be upgraded from trucking to more cost-effective network rehabilitations, with a focus on high-severity areas, and increasingly on climate resilience.
Through the No Lost Generation initiative, UNICEF will reach children at scale with integrated education, child protection, and adolescent development opportunities. Non-formal education will be delivered with implementing partners, while investments are planned to allow the education system to absorb the current cohort of school-aged children, including inclusive and early childhood education, particularly for adolescent girls. Adolescents will participate in their communities through life skills and social cohesion programming.
Eliminating violence against children will be integrated into all programme areas, with a social norms and behaviour change communications lens, ensuring children are safe in their homes, schools, and communities. Psychosocial support, explosive ordnance risk education, case management and gender-based violence prevention will aim to reduce children’s exposure to violence, exploitation and abuse. Vulnerable families, including those with children with disabilities, will receive cash transfers, combined with case management to meet their essential needs.
UNICEF will also respond to the cholera outbreak, mainly through the WASH, Health, and RCCE Pillars. UNICEF through the capacity building of local staff, community engagement, and the improvement of WASH and health infrastructures, will create the soil for responsive and resilient health systems able to limit and control epidemics.
The response is informed by gender analysis, accounting for the risks, needs and capacities of women, girls, men and boys. UNICEF and all its partners will uphold protection from sexual exploitation and abuse protocols, with safe and confidential reporting mechanisms made available to communities. Mechanisms to engage UNICEF beneficiaries in programming – through information provision, risk communication, and community engagement and feedback mechanisms – will be mainstreamed. This includes promoting positive social norms and practices to reduce communities' vulnerability and increase their resilience. Programme strategies will be improved through a comprehensive evidence base, including evaluations of programming in the areas of adolescence, WASH and social and behavioural change, integrated programming, and earthquake response.
UNICEF addresses the immediate life-saving and urgent humanitarian needs of girls, boys, adolescents, and families through an integrated and gender-responsive approach prioritizing highly affected areas and areas of large displacement, and also systematizes accountability to affected populations and the prevention of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in the Syrian Arab Republic; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.