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Map of Syria
UNICEF photo: A group of children sit in rows in a cave, light pours in from cave opening © UNICEF Syria/2016/Idleb/Ashawi_1 In a rural area, children demonstrate an extraordinary will to learn despite their living conditions. Two former teachers have transformed a cave into a school where 120 children take classes in two shifts based on their age and level of education.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
4.8 million

people served through the repair, rehabilitation and augmentation of water and sanitation systems

3.2 million

children under 5 vaccinated against polio

2.8 million

children aged 5 to 17 enrolled in formal education

2017 Requirements: US$354,638,896

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Total people in need: 13.5 million
Total children (<18) in need: 5.8 million

Total people to be reached in 2017: 12 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 5.8 million

The Syrian Arab Republic is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Children and youth face multiple risks of violence, exploitation and abuse, including recruitment into armed forces and groups, early marriage, child labour and family separation. Grave child rights violations continue unabated, with thousands of children killed and maimed due to the persistent use of explosive weapons in civilian areas. Access to fundamental basic services such as health care, clean water and sanitation is limited or non-existent for millions of children. Increasingly, these services are deliberately targeted and used as tactics of war by parties to the conflict. An estimated 6 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance inside the Syrian Arab Republic, including 420,000 children living in besieged locations with limited access to humanitarian aid. Almost 3 million children are internally displaced. Displaced children have missed out on months or even years of education and are at greater risk of exploitation. Coverage of childhood disease immunizations has collapsed in many parts of the country. Damaged or destroyed water infrastructure has left 70 per cent of the population without regular access to clean drinking water. The risk of water-borne disease outbreaks is acute. Children in hard-to-reach and besieged locations remain at high risk of malnutrition and require preventative interventions. In 2016, attacks on schools and hospitals increased. Only half of all hospitals are fully functioning. One school in every three is now destroyed, damaged or used as shelter, up from one school in every four in 2015. With 1.7 million children out of school, high youth unemployment and limited opportunities for development and growth, the odds are increasingly stacked against the next generation of Syrians.1

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets


  • 2 million children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women receiving micronutrients
  • 2.3 million children and pregnant and lactating women screened for acute malnutrition and 8,500 children under 5 treated for severe acute malnutrition


  • 3.2 million children under 5 vaccinated against polio
  • 2.1 million children and women supported through primary health care consultations


  • 4.8 million people served through the repair, rehabilitation and augmentation of water and sanitation systems
  • 1.6 million people benefiting from access to improved life-saving emergency WASH facilities and services

Child protection

  • 2.5 million individuals reached with mine risk education activities
  • 320,000 children and adults participating in structured and sustained child protection programmes


  • 2.8 million children aged 5 to 17 enrolled in formal education
  • 336,000 children aged 5 to 19 enrolled in non-formal education

Social protection

  • 920,000 children protected from extreme weather with clothing kits and blankets through direct distribution and e-vouchers

Early recovery and livelihoods

  • 14,900 families receiving regular cash transfers
  • 450,000 adolescents and youth involved in or leading civic engagement or social cohesion initiatives
  • 1,500 youth aged 15 to 24 years benefiting from livelihoods support, including seed funding

UNICEF’s humanitarian strategy is anchored in the 2017 Whole of Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. The organization leads the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and nutrition sectors and the child protection sub-sector, providing immediate life-saving support as well as longer-term resilience interventions. UNICEF operates through its field presence inside the Syrian Arab Republic (in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Qamishli and Tartous), as well as through cross-border interventions from Amman and Gaziantep. WASH programmes will focus on securing uninterrupted access to safe water, promoting good hygiene practices and reducing the risk of exposure to WASH-related morbidity, while rehabilitating and maintaining critical water infrastructure and diversifying the range and availability of alternative water supplies. UNICEF will sustain and reactivate routine immunization services for children by supporting health centres and mobile clinics with necessary vaccines and capacity. Basic paediatric and maternal health care services will gain critical medical supplies, equipment and training. In the context of worsening health care services, nutritional support will strengthen the capacities of communities and local authorities to prevent, screen, treat and manage malnutrition cases. The education response will address barriers to education among out-of-school children by strengthening the availability and quality of learning, including expanding the capacity of host communities to absorb internally displaced children by increasing the availability of learning spaces. UNICEF will also scale up its accelerated learning programme, Curriculum B, and provide a self-learning programme in line with the national curriculum for children with no access to formal education. UNICEF will continue psychosocial support and awareness raising on the dangers of unexploded remnants of war, while building the capacities of social workers and supporting the United Nations to monitor and report on grave violations. Adolescents and youth will receive skills-based education, community-based vocational training, entrepreneurship seed funding and access to civic engagement opportunities. Social protection schemes will combine regular cash distribution with case management, primarily targeting families of children with disabilities and out-of-school children. Seasonal clothes and blankets will be provided to the most vulnerable children through direct distribution and e-vouchers.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$242.5 million against the US$316.7 million appeal (77 per cent funded).2 Despite security and access constraints, UNICEF and partners reached more than 9 million people with critical assistance during the first 10 months of 2016, including an estimated 840,000 people living in hard-to-reach areas and 330,000 people in besieged locations. WASH and health interventions prevented outbreaks of water-borne diseases. This included the provision of water disinfectants to 14 million people each month; rehabilitation of groundwater wells to mitigate the impact of deliberate water cuts; emergency water trucking and the provision of critical water and hygiene supplies. Despite access constraints, successive polio campaigns immunized 3.5 million children under 5. UNICEF boosted routine immunization coverage through the provision of vaccines and solar cold chain equipment. More than 1.4 million children, pregnant women and lactating mothers received primary health care consultations. As part of United Nations inter-agency convoys, UNICEF sent nutrition supplies to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, benefiting 298,000 people. Nearly 3 million children received essential learning materials as part of the UNICEF Back-to-Learning campaign. In addition, 260 schools were rehabilitated and 279 pre-fabricated classrooms were installed across the country. UNICEF reached nearly 700,000 adolescents and youth (54 per cent girls), including 57,000 in hard-to-reach and besieged areas, with a comprehensive package of integrated services and opportunities. Some 1.8 million children received education on the dangers of remnants of war (compared with 1 million in 2015) and 440,000 children benefited from sustained and structured psychosocial support (compared with 454,000 in 2015). UNICEF provided 700,000 children with seasonal clothes and blankets, including 173,000 living in hard-to-reach and besieged locations. In Aleppo, 2,000 children with disabilities received cash transfers for the first time, helping their families better respond to their needs.

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Funding requirements

As part of the United Nations 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF is requesting US$354,638,896 to meet the needs and fulfil the rights of children and their families. 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.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘2017 Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview’, OCHA.
2 Available funds included funding received against the current appeal of US$183.5 million and US$59 million carried forward from the previous year.
3 Includes adolescents and youth.