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 are bearing the brunt of the 11-year-old conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. Over 13.4 million people (6.1 million children) require assistance and 7 million people are internally displaced (3.1 million children). Humanitarian needs have increased by more than one quarter since 2020, driven by an economic crisis, continuing violence in the northwest and other parts of Syria Arab Republic, hostilities, mass displacement, devastated public services and COVID-19.
- In 2022, UNICEF will deliver life-saving services to children and families, including through a multi-sector resilience-building approach with its partners and field offices. UNICEF will address the needs of girls, boys, adolescents, women and men, prioritizing high severity areas and responding to COVID-19 and systematizing accountability to affected populations and the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation.
- UNICEF requires US$334.4 million to reach children in the Syrian Arab Republic with humanitarian assistance in 2022. The greatest funding requirements are for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and education, among others.
Key planned results for 2022
3.2 million children vaccinated against polio
3.6 million people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
384,000 children accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
2.3 million children supported with educational services and supplies in formal settings
Funding requirements for 2022
Country needs and strategy
Children are bearing the brunt of the 11-year-old conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. The scale of children in need of humanitarian assistance is on the rise, increasing 27 per cent from 2020 to 2021, with 6.1 million children now affected. Overall, 13.4 million people require humanitarian assistance, up from 11 million in 2020. This includes 3 million people with disabilities and 7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). This escalation is being driven by a severe economic crisis, which is only worsening the impact of intensified regional hostilities, mass displacement, a widely devastated public service infrastructure and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ninety per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, with the Syrian Pound losing 78 per cent of its value and food prices increasing by 236 per cent in 2020. Only one third of schools and half of health centres are fully functional and 36 per cent of the population relies on alternative water sources (92 per cent had access to basic water services precrisis). There are 90,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition and 4.5 million children out of school with 1.6 million at risk of dropping out; children with disabilities are particularly likely to be out of school.
Protection concerns remain paramount. In 2020, 2,140 grave violations against children were recorded, including recruitment, deaths and injuries. One third of communities are contaminated with explosive ordnance. The economic crisis is also worsening negative coping mechanisms and contributing to the normalization of gender-based violence, which predominantly affects women and girls. Sixty-two per cent of communities surveyed reported child marriage (often affecting girls) and 67 per cent that children are forced to work rather than study (often affecting boys).
Conflict has intensified in the northwest, which hosts 2.8 million IDPs. The period of June to August 2021 saw the greatest escalation of hostilities in over a year. Humanitarian needs in the northwest are among the worst in the country, with 2.2 million out of 4.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 1 million out of 1.7 million school-age children out of school.
In the northeast, complex political and conflict dynamics combined with drought conditions have endangered access to water for 4.5 million people, while at least 25,000 children associated with armed groups continue to languish in camps and detention centres and require support to facilitate their safe reintegration or repatriation. Among those affected are IDPs in the camps of Al-Hol (58,000 people, 65 per cent children) and Al-Roj (2,620 people, 67 per cent children), who are fully dependent on aid. This includes 7,468 third-country national children, whom UNICEF is working to help return to their homes. The UN Security Council Resolution 2585 authorizing UN cross-border assistance into Syria will be up for renewal in January and July 2022 and remains the only viable modality for reaching vulnerable people in the northwest. UNICEF and partners continue to work to expand much-needed complementary cross-line activities.
UNICEF prioritizes its assistance towards high severity areas using the Whole of Syria approach from its hubs in Damascus and Gaziantep and its six field offices. Cross-border access to the northwest has been guaranteed by Security Council Resolution 2585. Wherever possible, the United Nations will work crossline; the first crossline convoy in four years reached the northwest on 30 August 2021.
Uniquely positioned to work across the humanitarian-development nexus, UNICEF aims to make a sustained impact on a generation of children affected by conflict, displacement and instability. This means helping children build their personal resilience, as well as the resilience of their family and community. UNICEF implementing partners will provide services in areas of highest need, including health consultations and preventative and curative nutrition services. In parallel, support will be extended to ensure the Expanded Programme on Immunization system reaches every child.
The provision of emergency WASH services will target camps, collective shelters and new returnees, including in the northwest. Water and sanitation networks will be rehabilitated and maintained in high severity areas, especially in areas of the northeast affected by the water crisis. Advocacy led by the WASH Sector and coordinated with United Nations agencies will be key for UNICEF to ensure Alouk water station remains operational.
As a leader of the No Lost Generation initiative, UNICEF will reach children at scale with education, child protection and adolescent development opportunities. Children will receive non-formal, remedial, vocational, accelerated and formal education services, including for early childhood development, with the aim to transition and retain children in formal, certified education. Adolescents will participate in their communities through life skills and social cohesion programming.
Psychosocial support, explosive ordnance risk education (EORE), case management and GBV prevention and empowerment will aim to reduce children’s exposure to violence, exploitation and abuse. All UNICEF humanitarian partners will be trained on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse protocols, with safe and confidential reporting mechanisms made available to UNICEF beneficiaries. Highly vulnerable families will receive cash or in-kind supplies to protect their children from extreme weather and meet the needs of children with disabilities.
Preparedness and mechanisms to engage UNICEF beneficiaries in programming – though information provision, risk communication and community engagement and feedback mechanisms – will be integrated into programming to build community resilience. Programme strategy will be improved through a comprehensive evidence base, including the results of the global evaluation of the UNICEF response in Syria (2021) and evaluations of the infant and young child feeding (2021) and EORE (2022) programmes.
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.