Map of Syria
UNICEF photo: A girl in face pain looks at camera © UNICEF Syria/2015/Souleiman A girl poses for a camera during a psychosocial support service activity in Qamishli City in the Hassakeh Governorate.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 2016, UNICEF and partners plan for:
4.6 million

people served with safe water through repair/rehabilitation and augmentation of systems


children and adults participated in structured and sustained child protection and psychosocial support programmes

4.2 million

children enrolled in formal and non-formal education

2016 Requirements: US$316,720,344

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Total affected population: 13.5 million
Total affected children: 6 million

Total people to be reached in 2016: 12 million
Total children to be reached in 2016: 5.3 million

After almost five years of conflict, Syrians are now facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with grave protection and human rights violations occurring daily. An estimated 13.5 million people are in need of urgent life-saving assistance inside the Syrian Arab Republic, including 6 million children. Families have been forced from their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed as a result of relentless violence and the disruption of basic services. More than 4 million people have already fled the country and 6.5 million people are internally displaced.1 Children are particularly vulnerable to grave child rights violations such as recruitment into armed groups, exploitation and abuse, including forced early marriage and child labour. Access to education, health care, water, sanitation and social services remains inadequate. Some 26 per cent of hospitals are not functioning, resulting in 42 per cent of the population lacking access to basic health care and approximately one third of children under 5 years not yet reached with routine immunization.2 One in every four schools is destroyed, damaged or occupied and more than 2 million children are out of school. This dire situation is further compounded by water shortages; today 70 per cent of the population lives without regular access to water, both due to deliberate cuts by parties to the conflict and extensive damage to water infrastructure.

Humanitarian strategy

2016 Programme Targets


  • 4,608,600 people served with safe water through repair/rehabilitation and augmentation of systems
  • More than 1.5 million people benefitted from access to improved life-saving emergency WASH services/facilities


  • 2.9 million children under 5 years vaccinated against polio


  • 951,500 children under 5 years, pregnant women and lactating women received multi-micronutrient supplementation
  • 1.19 million children screened and 8,000 children under 5 years treated for acute malnutrition

Child protection

  • 2,192,500 individuals reached with risk education
  • 425,000 children and adults participated in structured and sustained child protection and psychosocial support programmes


  • 3,195,000 children enrolled in formal education
  • 983,000 children enrolled in non-formal education

Non-food items

  • 818,874 children received summer and winter materials
  • 50,000 internally displaced persons and host families received voucher or cash assistance to meet children's seasonal non-food needs

The UNICEF humanitarian strategy, which is anchored in the United Nations 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan, aims to provide immediate life-saving support to conflict-affected women and children while simultaneously supporting the longer-term resilience of local communities. UNICEF will focus on reaching the most vulnerable, especially those living in hard-to-reach and besieged locations, and leverage its strong field presence inside the Syrian Arab Republic by operating out of five field hubs and through cross-border programmes. As part of the Whole of Syria approach, UNICEF will continue to lead and coordinate the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and nutrition sectors and the child protection sub-sector. UNICEF WASH efforts will focus on providing life-saving water trucking and quick repairs to critical water sources, while developing alternative water sources and rehabilitating and maintaining water infrastructure. In health and nutrition, the focus will be on reactivating and strengthening routine immunization services, including through cross-border efforts and expanding access to primary and maternal care. UNICEF will strengthen capacities to address malnutrition amidst increasing economic deprivation and scarcity. Education, child protection and adolescent development programmes will be framed under the No Lost Generation Initiative. UNICEF will focus on increasing school enrolment; facilitating alternative, life-skills-based and remedial education opportunities; and providing psychosocial support, vocational training, recreational activities and risk education on the dangers of unexploded remnants of war. UNICEF will also launch a cash transfer programme in 2016 to provide economic relief to the most vulnerable families. To face the winter months, UNICEF will provide seasonal clothes, blankets, school heaters and vouchers as a life-saving intervention.

Results from 2015

As of 31 October 2015, UNICEF had received 46 per cent (US$129 million) of the US$279.3 million 2015 appeal, in addition to US$31.3 million carried forward from 2014. Despite a challenging operating environment, UNICEF and partners reached 7.5 million people in 2015, including 1.5 million people in hard-to-reach and besieged locations. This was made possible by the various operating modalities, including regular programming and assistance across borders and active conflict lines. With additional funding, however, even more children could have been reached. Education and nutrition were the most underfunded sectors (64 per cent and 86 per cent funding gaps, respectively). The WASH programme response has been critical to averting humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo, Damascus, Rural Damascus and Dar’a. UNICEF supported the construction of 162 groundwater wells servicing some 2 million people, provided water trucking for 750,000 people and improved water and sanitation services for 7.3 million people. WASH services reached 2.5 million internally displaced persons. Successive polio campaigns immunized close to 3 million children under 5 years (surpassing targets), contributing to the prevention of further disease spread. Full coverage has not yet been possible, however, due to access and security constraints. As of October 2015, nearly 900,000 children and women were supported with access to primary health care services (69 per cent of the target). UNICEF and partners screened more than 700,000 children for acute malnutrition and supported full treatment for more than 11,000 children in 2015 (53 per cent of the target). UNICEF launched the Back-to-Learning campaign in September, reaching 578,000 children, and rehabilitated 105 schools, with an additional 185 schools planned by the end of 2015. Almost 650,000 children were reached with structured and unstructured psychosocial support (92 per cent of the target) and 879,000 children were sensitized on the risk of explosive remnants of war. UNICEF also reached 377,000 children with seasonal clothes and blankets and procured an additional 384,000 winter clothing kits that will be distributed to children before the harsh winter sets in.

Funding requirements

As part of the United Nations 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF is requesting US$316,720,344 to meet the needs of children and families in 2016. 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.

1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Syrian Arab Republic’,, accessed 28 December 2015.
2 Ibid.
3 It is estimated that up to 12.2 million people will benefit from sustained supply of water treatment chemicals for drinking water nationwide.
4 Water and sanitation systems were a programme focus in 2015 and the result exceeded the target. In 2015, UNICEF supported WASH infrastructure in communities hardest hit by conflict, repairing systems and providing water treatment supplies to ensure water is safe for consumption.
5 UNICEF procured and delivered Back-to-Learning materials (a set of school bags and textbooks) to schools for 2 million children in the Syrian Arab Republic during the 2015-2016 academic year. Although the receipt of school-level data was delayed due to the difficult operating environment, UNICEF has so far received partner reports confirming distribution for 700,000 children as of the end of December 2015, with remaining reports forthcoming. Quality assurance and review of the non-formal education material required more time than expected, which delayed the implementation of new initiatives such as self-learning and curriculum B material. These interventions will be implemented in 2016.
5 Ibid.