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Map of Syria
UNICEF photo: Children play in front of their tents at Batbu camp in western rural Aleppo. © UNICEF/UN0266987/Watad Children play in front of their tents at Batbu camp in western rural Aleppo.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 2019, UNICEF and partners plan for:
2.4 million

children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients

2.9 million

children under 5 years vaccinated against polio

3.7 million

people accessing improved water supply

2019 requirements: US$294,800,037

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Total people in need: 11.7 million
Total children (<18) in need: 5 million

Total people to be reached: 10 million8
Total children to be reached: 5.7 million9

Eight years after the start of the conflict, the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic remains one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Some 11.7 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million people internally displaced. Children, including those unaccompanied, separated or living with older/disabled caregivers, remain particularly vulnerable. Out of the estimated 8.44 million children living in the Syrian Arab Republic, 5 million require humanitarian assistance and over 3.1 million children under 5 years require nutritional support, as well as 1.6 million pregnant and lactating women.1 Grave violations of children's rights and violations of international humanitarian law continue, with children killed and injured by the persistent use of explosive weapons in civilian areas and the recruitment of children by armed forces and groups. Years of conflict dramatically reduced access to basic social services, with 2.1 million children aged 5 to 17 years out of school and 1.3 million children at risk of dropping out.2 Displaced populations and returnees, particularly in northeast and northwest Syria, are vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases due to unsanitary living conditions, overstretched health services and low coverage of routine immunization. An estimated 577,219 newborns will require routine immunization across Syria in 2019, with an estimated 320,000 children between 13 and 59 months of age not fully vaccinated during their first years of life.3 In addition, some 15.5 million people require access to safe water, including 6.2 million people experiencing an acute level of water, sanitation and hygiene needs.4 The delivery of humanitarian assistance remains extremely difficult due to active conflict, insecurity, restrictions on movement and the imposition of deliberate constraints, including burdensome administrative procedures. As of March 2019, Idlib was hosting more than 1.3 million internally displaced persons,5 and despite the Russian/Turkish demilitarized buffer zone agreement, grave concerns remain regarding the possibility of a military escalation in Idlib with catastrophic humanitarian implications. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-led military campaign against the last Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held enclave in north-eastern rural Deir ez Zor scaled up at the end of 2018 resulting in large population displacement requiring urgent lifesaving assistance. Between December 2018 and mid- February 2019, more than 10,727 households/42,000 people have arrived from Hajin in south-eastern Deir ez Zor to Al Hole Camp, where the population has surged to over 73,000 people,6 way beyond the camp's capacity,. Majority of displaced persons are women and children. The new arrivals are in need of immediate lifesaving support. In the Southern part of the country, following the second humanitarian inter-agency delivery to Rukban in February 2019, a stranded population of over 30,000 at the Syrian- Jordanian borders remains in need of a more sustainable access. In April 2019 people started to leave Rukban camp and return to their areas of origin within Syria, mainly Homs, nearly 10,800 people (26 per cent of the total camp population) had reportedly left the camp.7

Humanitarian strategy

2019 programme targets


  • 2.9 million children under 5 years vaccinated against polio
  • 2.2 million children and women of childbearing age supported through primary health care consultations


  • 2.4 million children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients
  • 1.8 million children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women screened for acute malnutrition
  • 9,600 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 800,000 caregivers including PLWs counselled or reached with awareness on IYCF


  • 3.7 million people accessing improved water supply
  • 1.3 million people accessing improved sanitation services
  • 1.5 million people accessing improved life-saving/emergency WASH facilities and services


  • 2.4 million children enrolled in formal general education benefiting from education services
  • 440,000 children enrolled in non-formal education benefiting from education services

Child protection

  • 2.4 million people reached with mine risk education
  • 350,000 girls and boys engaged in structured and sustained child protection programming, including psychosocial support
  • 51,000 women and men engaged in structured and sustained parenting programmes

Non-food items

  • 682,000 children protected from extreme weather

Early recovery and livelihood

  • 200,000 Adolescents and youth (10-24 years) promoting social cohesion and civic engagement at community level
  • 11,500 children with disabilities received regular cash transfers

The 2019 Whole of Syria strategy is based on the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), aligned to the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the Syria Strategic Framework. In 2019, UNICEF continues to work closely with humanitarian partners to provide immediate life-saving service delivery focusing on the most vulnerable children affected by the crisis and disease outbreaks with a multi-sectoral response addressing their nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and education needs. In addition, UNICEF is strengthening focus on scaling up interventions that build resilience. UNICEF continues to lead the nutrition, WASH and education sectors and the child protection sub-sector, and is working in close collaboration with implementing partners inside the country and across borders. To prevent epidemics, such as outbreaks of polio and measles and water-borne diseases, UNICEF and partners are providing targeted response in the highest-risk areas. To ensure that no child is left behind, UNICEF continues to advocate for the immunization of children in hard-to-reach areas, prevention of chronic malnutrition, exclusive breastfeeding, treatment of acute malnutrition and micro-nutrient supplementation. UNICEF continues to support increased access to safe water and promote good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases. Equitable access to education is being scaled up to support alternative learning, focusing on self-learning programmes, early learning and the quality of education. UNICEF is expanding child protection services in newly accessible areas and in camps and providing specialized services for high-risk child protection cases. Increased focus is placed on adolescents and young people, who are being supported through cross-sectoral services, life-skills programmes, vocational education and entrepreneurship training. UNICEF continues to engage in social protection schemes that combine regular cash distribution with case management, primarily targeting families of children with disabilities. Gender-based violence risk mitigation is being strengthened across all programmatic sectors. Programming on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse is being scaled up using a survivor-centred approach. UNICEF continues to engage with communities to promote key behaviours related to their lives and well-being and create feedback mechanisms for affected populations.

Results from 2019

As of 15 April 2019, UNICEF had US$75 million available against the US$294.8 million revised appeal (25 per cent funded). So far, UNICEF reached almost 800,000 people with improved and sustained access to safe water and over 104,000 people with sanitation services. UNICEF supported water and sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion activities in schools, benefited over 50,000 school children, including addressing the special needs of children with disabilities. Over 600,000 people received WASH supplies, including family hygiene kits, soap and water purification tablets. UNICEF continued to provide emergency WASH services for internally displaced persons, including water disinfectants that helped 13.7 million people access safe water. Fixed health centres and mobile teams reached over 560,000 children and women. Over 65,000 children under 1 year were vaccinated with the third dose of diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine, and 3.2 million children received polio vaccination. Over 70,000 children and pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients and more than 270,000 children and women were screened for malnutrition with more than 800 children under 5 years receiving life-saving treatment. In addition, some 79,000 mothers and caregivers benefited from infant and young child feeding counselling. UNICEF reached more than 163,000 children with formal education services over the course of the year. Nearly 115,000 children accessed education opportunities through the accelerated learning programme, and over 3,700 teachers and education personnel received training on child-focused learning. Some 119,000 children (51 per cent girls) and caregivers received structured psychosocial support services through child-friendly spaces and mobile teams. In 2019, UNICEF continued to prioritize mine risk education (MRE) interventions as a lifesaving component promoting safe behavior and providing skills and knowledge benefiting over 300,000 people to better protect themselves against such risks. In addition, some 5,900 children with disabilities received cash assistance and case management services and 272,000 children (80,000 in hard-to-reach besieged areas) received seasonal clothes and blankets.Over 15,000 young people (52 per cent girls) benefited from life-skills and citizenship education, 19,000 young people (52 per cent girls) received vocational training opportunities and 97,000 young people (50 per cent girls) accessed civic and social cohesion opportunities.

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Funding requirements

In line with the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is requesting US$294.8 million to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families in Syrian Arab Republic and fulfill children's rights, through cross-border assistance within the Whole of Syria approach. UNICEF's humanitarian action focuses on nationwide reach, targeting populations in the areas with the most acute needs.11

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , ‘Syrian Arab Republic: 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview’, March2019.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Office for the United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Population Dataset and Area of Influence Map, February 2019
6 UNOCHA, Humanitarian Update Syrian Arab Republic - Issue 02 | 4 April 2019.
7 UNOCHA, Syrian Arab Republic: Rukban Departures
8 The total target population of 10 million is based on the combined targets for WASH (access to improved water supply), education (children reached with formal and non-formal education), child protection (people reached by mine risk education), health (children immunized though polio) and 50 per cent of the young people reached by the Adolescents Development and Participation programme.
9 The total target for children was calculated including children under-five reached through immunization and 5-17 years-old children targeted by education (both formal and non-formal). The children to be reached figure includes both displaced and host area population and is more than total children in need figure as per the HNO 2019, which reflects displaced population.
10 The revised targets reflect the changes in the context due to the evolution of the crisis resulted in reduced costs of service delivery due to improved accessibility and changes in severity scale.
11 The six population groups that are generally most in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance in the Syrian Arab Republic include: people living in United Nations-declared besieged areas; internally displaced persons in last resort camps, informal settlements, transit centers and collective centers; newly displaced persons; spontaneous/self-organized returnees; overburdened communities; and areas of high conflict intensity.
12 Funds available as of 15 April 2019, including US$ 19,072,307 funding received in 2019 and US$ 55,973,303 of carry-forward.
13 Includes US$ 8.9 million for cash-based assistance.
14 The funding requirements has decreased due to revised needs and reduced targets; changes in context due to the evolution of the crisis resulting in reduced service delivery costs due to improved accessibility and changes in severity scale.