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Map of Syria
UNICEF photo: A young girl smiles for the camera against a backdrop of destroyed buildings © UNICEF Syria/2017/KhudrAl-Issa Rowaidah, 5, after receiving her polio vaccination in Sakhour neighbourhood in eastern Aleppo.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 2018, UNICEF and partners plan for:
1.7 million

children and pregnant and lactating women screened for acute malnutrition

13.5 million

people have sustained access to safe drinking water

2.1 million

people reached with mine-risk education

2018 Requirements: US$319,823,351

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Total people in need: 13.1 million
Total children (<18) in need: 5.3 million

Total people to be reached in 2018: 13.5 million1
Total children to be reached in 2018: 5.7 million

Seven years into the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, the scale, severity and complexity of needs across the country remain overwhelming. Some 13.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million internally displaced persons.3 Children including those who are unaccompanied, separated or living with older/disabled caregivers are particularly vulnerable. Of the estimated 8.35 million children living in the Syrian Arab Republic, 5.3 million require humanitarian assistance, 750,000 live in hard-to-reach areas.4 More than 3 million children under-5 years require nutrition support, including the nearly 20,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).5 Grave child rights violations continue, with countless children killed and injured by the persistent use of explosive weapons in civilian areas and the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, as well as torture, detention, abduction, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access. Access to basic social services has dramatically declined, with 1.75 million children aged 5 to 17 out of school and 1.35 million at risk of dropping out.6 National routine immunization coverage declined from 90 per cent in 2010 to 70 per cent in 2017,7 triggering several outbreaks. In 2017, there were a record 70 vaccine-derived polio virus cases8 reported among children. Some 14.6 million people require access to safe water, including 7.6 million in acute humanitarian need, in part due to heavy infrastructure damage.9 The delivery of humanitarian assistance remains extremely difficult due to active conflict, insecurity, restriction of movement and the imposition of deliberate constraints, including burdensome administrative procedures. Situation remains worrying in Western-North parts of the country, especially in Idleb governorate. Movement of civilians remain fluid in the Northern-East, mainly due to ongoing conflicts resulting in small scale displacements from Rural Deir-ez-Zor towards camps in Al-Hassakeh governorate. Movement of return is still increasing towards Ar- Raqqa city.

Humanitarian strategy

2018 programme targets


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


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


  • 4.5 million people with access to improved water supply
  • 13.5 million people have sustained access to safe drinking water
  • 1.8 million people benefitted from access to 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 enrolled in formal general education benefiting education services
  • 302,500 children aged 5 to 17 enrolled in non-formal education benefiting education services

Non-food items

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

Early recovery and livelihoods

  • 12,200 children with disabilities receiving regular cash transfers
  • 450,000 adolescents aged 10 to 17 and youth aged 18 to 24 involved in or leading civic engagement initiatives
  • 1,000 youth aged 15 to 24 implementing entrepreneurship initiatives, including through seed funding

In 2018, the UNICEF Whole of Syria strategy targets populations with the greatest humanitarian needs. UNICEF continues to lead the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and nutrition sectors and the child protection sub-sector, and is working in close collaboration with implementing partners inside the country and across borders.10 Immediate life-saving humanitarian support is being provided alongside longer-term resilience programming through crossline convoys, cross-border interventions and regular programme delivery in accessible areas. UNICEF WASH support includes increasing access to safe water, rehabilitating WASH facilities, restoring critical WASH infrastructure and promoting good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of WASH-related morbidity. The health programme facilitates provision of child and maternal health care and expansion of quality immunization services. UNICEF is advocating for the vaccination of children in hard-to-reach and besieged areas on the prevention of chronic malnutrition (stunting), the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, the prevention of micronutrient deficiency among mothers and children under 5, and SAM treatment.

The education response addresses disparities among out-of-school children by strengthening alternative learning opportunities using Curriculum B11 and self-learning programmes. Equitable access to early learning for pre-primary school children is being scaled up. UNICEF is expanding teacher development, support for inclusive education and life-skills and citizenship education. Technical support is being extended to the Back to Learning initiative, as well as to address violence against children, child marriage and child labour. UNICEF continues to provide psychosocial support and awarenessraising education on the dangers of unexploded remnants of war. Building on the previous years’ investment in case management systems and restoration of immunization services, UNICEF is expanding services in newly accessible areas and in camps and also ensuring specialized services for high-risk child protection cases. Communication for Development interventions are being strengthened to support routine immunization, particularly to prevent polio outbreaks. The nutrition programme the United Nations continues to receive UNICEF's support to monitor and report on grave child rights violations. Adolescents and youth are being supported with cross-sectoral services, skills and opportunities, focusing on life-skills, technical and vocational education and entrepreneurship training. UNICEF also supports 'Sport for Development' and social and civic engagement initiatives. Social protection schemes combine regular cash distribution with case management, primarily targeting families of children with disabilities. Seasonal clothes and blankets are being provided to the most vulnerable children through direct distribution and e-vouchers.

Results from 2017

As of 30 June 2018, UNICEF had US$194.7 million available against the US$319.8 million revised appeal (61 per cent funded).12 UNICEF provided 1.3 million people with access to improved water supply, through critical repairs and rehabilitation of water systems and equipping of over 100 wells. Over 800,000 people gained improved access to sanitation services through UNICEF supported repair of the damaged municipal sewage system and the provision of sewage jets to unblock clogging. Across the country, 13.3 million people had sustained access to safe drinking water through distribution of water disinfectant. UNICEF provided over 1.4 million primary health care consultations to children and mothers through health centers and mobile teams run by local NGO partners and the Ministry of Health (MoH), including emergency response in Ar-Raqqa and North eastern governorates, Idleb and North-West, East Ghouta, Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem, Rural Aleppo, Rural Hama, Homs and Dar’a. Health supplies were distributed to 640,090 affected population through partners and inter-agency convoys. Nearly 3.5 million children under 5 were vaccinated through polio campaigns, and over 160,000 children benefited from routine immunization. UNICEF provided more than 1.5 million children and pregnant and lactating women with nutrition supplies and services, including treatment for acute malnutrition and counselling on infant and young child feeding practices. With UNICEF support, 523,000 children gained access to formal education, and over 89,000 gained access to non-formal education opportunities. UNICEF supported 125,524 children with access to new learning spaces through rehabilitation of both formal and nonformal facilities (69 schools rehabilitated and 81 pre-fabs classrooms). To protect against the dangers of explosive remnants of war, some 700,000 children received mine-risk education, and nearly 192,000 children benefitted from sustained and structured psychosocial support. UNICEF-supported life-skills and citizenship education programmes and community-based vocational training benefitted nearly 35,000 adolescents and youth, including more than 3,071 located in hard-to-reach areas. Some 540,000 of the most vulnerable children,13 including displaced children and children with disabilities, received non-food items, including seasonal clothes. More than 5,800 families accessed regular cash assistance to meet their children’s basic needs. UNICEF results were achieved through modalities such as cross-line convoys, cross-border interventions and regular programme delivery in accessible areas. Some of the constraints faced to date have included delays in receiving official approvals for projects. The upsurge in conflict has also led to a change in strategy for programming with a transition from cross-border to programming from Damascus.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF has revised its appeal to US$319,823,531 to meet the needs of children and families and fulfill children's rights. 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.14

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1 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 population in need figure as it includes both displaced and host community population. Children to be reached figure is also based on the 13.5 million target.
2 Some targets in Health and WASH were increased without increasing the required budget as the additional beneficiaries can be reached with the same resources. For instance, the amount of vaccines is calculated based on 15% wastage and 20% buffer stock, which may allow reaching more children. For preventive health care services, the calculation method changed from counting individual beneficiaries to counting consultations. For WASH interventions, such as short-term water-trucking support to IDPs, the number of beneficiaries can be increased without the need to increase the required budget.
3 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, '2018 Population dataset', OCHA, 2018.
4 Calculation based on latest besieged/hard-to-reach locations list from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and applied percentage of children from the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview dataset.
5 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, '2018 Syrian Humanitarian Needs Overview', OCHA, 2017.
6 Ibid.
7 There are multiple reasons for the dramatic coverage decrease, including difficulties in accessing the population, lack of human resources, logistics challenges, poor cold chain systems and vaccine stock-outs - Source: UNICEF 2018 health (Expanded Programme on Immunization) project sheet.
8 World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund, 'Syria cVDPV2 outbreak Situation Report # 26', WHO and UNICEF, 12 December 2017.
9 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, '2018 Syrian Humanitarian Needs Overview', OCHA, 2017.
10 As sector lead in WASH, education and nutrition, and sub-sector lead in child protection, UNICEF continues to enhance coordination and information management capacity at the Whole of Syria and hub level, as well as sub-national levels. It further provides guidance to all sector partners for the implementation of the strategic priorities and action plans as per the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. UNICEF also provides capacity building for and works in close coordination with its implementing partners inside the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as through cross-border interventions from Amman, Jordan, and Gaziantep, Turkey.
11 Curriculum B is a condensed basic education curriculum for accelerated learning for children who have missed classes due to repeated displacement and to help them catch up and ultimately reintegrate into formal schools.
12 Available funds include US$112.6 million raised against the current appeal and US$82.1 million carried forward from the previous year.
13 The non-food item distribution includes the number of beneficiaries who received e-vouchers (25,289 children).
14 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.
15 Funds/budget pending allocation to sectors.