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Map of Syria
UNICEF photo: A young girl peeks between her hands and smiles for the camera © UNICEF Syrian Arab Republic/2018/Aaref Watad A girl living in a makeshift camp in north Idlib. Since the beginning of September 2018, thousands of people have been displaced, following the recent escalation of hostilities in northwest Syrian Arab Republic.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 2019, UNICEF and partners plan for:
2.3 million

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

3.4 million

children under 5 years vaccinated against polio

4.5 million

people accessing improved water supply

2019 Requirements: US$319,823,351

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Total people in need: 13.1 million11
Total children (<18) in need: 5.6 million12

Total people to be reached: 13.5 million13
Total children to be reached: 5.7 million14

Almost 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.1 Some 13.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million people who are internally displaced.2 Children, including those unaccompanied, separated or living with older/disabled caregivers, remain particularly vulnerable. Out of the estimated 8.35 million children living in the Syrian Arab Republic, 5.6 million require humanitarian assistance and 493,000 are living in hard-to-reach areas not served by cross-line, cross-border or regular programming.3 More than 3 million children under 5 years require nutritional support, including nearly 20,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).4 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 have dramatically reduced access to basic social services, with 1.75 million children aged 5 to 17 years out of school and 1.35 million children at risk of dropping out.5 National routine immunization coverage has declined, from 90 per cent in 2010 to 70 per cent in 2017, triggering several outbreaks, including of polio and measles.6 Some 14.6 million people require access to safe water, including 7.6 million people experiencing an acute level of humanitarian need.7 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 May 2018, Idlib was hosting more than 1.3 million internally displaced persons,8 and despite the Russian/Turkish demilitarized buffer zone agreement, grave concerns remain regarding the possibility of a military escalation in Idleb that would have catastrophic humanitarian implications. Daily updates by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicate that the Syrian Democratic Forces-led campaign against the last enclave held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northeastern rural Deir ez-Zor has continued, resulting in new displacements.9 In the northeast, international non-governmental organizations are unable to access key areas due to ongoing security concerns. The situation in Rukban camp, near the border with Jordan, remains critical.

Humanitarian strategy

2019 programme targets


  • 2.3 million children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients
  • 1.7 million children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women screened for acute malnutrition
  • 8,200 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM


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


  • 4.5 million people accessing improved water supply
  • 13.5 million people have sustained access to safe drinking water
  • 1.8 million people accessing improved life-saving/emergency WASH facilities and services

Child protection

  • 2.1 million people reached with mine risk education
  • 295,000 people provided with structured and sustained psychosocial support and parenting programmes


  • 1.4 million children aged 5 to 17 years enrolled in formal general education benefiting from education services
  • 302,500 children aged 5 to 17 years enrolled in non-formal education benefiting from education services

Non-food items

  • 682,000 children protected from extreme weather with clothing kits and blankets through direct distribution

Early recovery and livelihoods

  • 450,000 adolescents (10 to 17 years) and youth (18 to 24 years) involved in/ leading civic engagement initiatives
  • 12,200 children with disabilities received regular cash transfers

UNICEF’s humanitarian strategy in the Syrian Arab Republic, which represents a critical component of the UNICEF Whole of Syria strategy, is aligned with the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the Syria Strategic Framework. In 2019, UNICEF will continue to work closely with implementing partners (both humanitarian actors and the public sector) to provide immediate life-saving service delivery. The response will target 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 will strengthen its focus on the longer-term by 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 waterborne diseases, UNICEF and partners will provide a targeted response in the highest-risk areas. Building on the previous years’ investments in strengthening case management systems and restoring immunization services, UNICEF will expand services in newly accessible areas and in camps and provide specialized services for high-risk child protection cases. To ensure that no child is left behind, UNICEF will continue to advocate for the immunization of children in hard-to-reach areas, the prevention of chronic malnutrition, exclusive breastfeeding, treatment of acute malnutrition and micronutrient supplementation. UNICEF will continue to support increased access to safe water and promote good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. Equitable access to education will be scaled up to support alternative learning, focusing on self-learning programmes, early learning and the quality of education. Increased focus will be placed on adolescents and youth, who will be supported through cross-sectoral services, life-skills programmes, vocational education and entrepreneurship training. UNICEF will continue 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 will be strengthened across all programmatic sectors and programming on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse will be scaled up using a survivor-centred approach. UNICEF will continue to engage with communities to promote key behaviours related to their lives and well-being and create feedback mechanisms for affected populations.

Results from 2018

As of 31 October 2018, UNICEF had US$190.8 million available against the US$319.8 million revised appeal (60 per cent funded).10 In 2018, UNICEF reached nearly 3 million people with improved and sustained access to safe water and over 1 million people with sanitation services. UNICEF completed the development and rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion activities in schools, benefiting 140,000 schoolchildren. Over 1 million people received WASH non-food items, 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 15 million people access safe water. Health consultations supported by UNICEF and provided through fixed centres and mobile teams reached over 2.6 million children and women. Through routine immunization, over 315,000 children under 1 year were vaccinated with the third dose of diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine, and more than 3.5 million children under 5 years received polio vaccination. With UNICEF support, nearly 1.9 million children under 5 years and pregnant and lactating women received micronutrients, more than 1 million children and women were screened for malnutrition and more than 6,000 children under 5 years received life-saving treatment. In addition, nearly 541,000 mothers and caregivers benefited from infant and young child feeding counselling. UNICEF reached more than 1.8 million children with formal education services over the course of the year. Nearly 252,000 children accessed education opportunities through the accelerated learning programme, and 20,000 teachers and education personnel received training on child-focused learning. Some 186,000 children (51 per cent girls) and more than 63,000 caregivers received structured psychosocial support services through child-friendly spaces and mobile teams. Over 136,000 children and adolescents (51 per cent girls) and over 56,000 caregivers benefited from awareness-raising activities on child protection issues. In collaboration with governmental and non-governmental partners, UNICEF provided life-saving messages to over 1 million people to mitigate the risk of explosive remnants of war/mines and promote safe behaviours. In addition, some 9,500 children with disabilities received cash assistance and case management services and 510,000 children (232,000 in hard-to-reach besieged areas) received seasonal clothes and blankets. UNICEF also reached 28,000 children from vulnerable families with e-vouchers. Some 146,000 young people (52 per cent girls) benefited from life-skills and citizenship education, 22,500 young people (52 per cent girls) received vocational training opportunities and 90,500 young people (50 per cent girls) accessed civic and social cohesion opportunities.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$319.8 million to meet the needs of children and families and fulfill children’s rights. The current requirement is subject to change pending the official release of the 2019 HRP. This funding requirement covers programming delivered from within the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as cross-border assistance delivered as part of the Whole of Syria approach. UNICEF programmes are planned for nationwide reach, targeting populations in the areas with the most acute needs, and the population groups most in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.15

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1 At the time of writing this appeal, the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for the Syrian Arab Republic were not yet available/published. Therefore, the needs, planning figures and funding requirements are provisional/based on the 2018 HRP and are subject to change after the 2019 HNO and HRP become available in early 2019.
2 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Syrian Arab Republic: 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan’, OCHA, 2017.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ministry of Education official statistics for the 2017/18 school year.
6 Ministry of Health official statistics, 2010-2017.
7 ‘Syrian Arab Republic: 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan’.
8 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Revised Humanitarian Needs Assessment, August 2018.
9 OCHA reports that 30,000 people have been internally displaced from the ISIL-held Hajin enclave between June and November 2018.
10 Available funds include US$121.6 million received against the current appeal and US$69.2 million carried forward from the previous year.
11 Provisional figure based on the 2018 HRP, which does not include the host population.
12 Ibid.
13 This is based on the highest programme target, which is 13.5 million people reached with access to water with water disinfectants. The target is more than the figure for the population in need as it includes both displaced and host community populations. The figure for children to be reached is also based on the 13.5 million target.
14 Children make up 42 per cent of the target population according to the United Nations Population Task Force, August 2018.
15 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 centres and collective centres; newly displaced persons; spontaneous/self-organized returnees; overburdened communities; and areas of high conflict intensity.
16 The 2019 funding requirement is provisional, based on 2018 and subject to change upon the official release of the 2019 HRP.
17 This includes US$10.7 million for cash-based transfers.