Syrian Refugees Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
Syrian refugees snapshot
- The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis in the world, with 5.6 million registered refugees, including over 2.5 million children, living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. In 2020, the situation in all affected countries was further aggravated by the the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. Nearly 19.8 million people, including 6 million children, need assistance.
- UNICEF will respond to the Syrian refugee crisis by reaching refugee children living in camps, informal tented settlements and urban settings, and vulnerable children from host communities, with education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection, health, nutrition and social protection services and adolescent and youth programmes.
- In 2021, UNICEF requires US$1 billion to respond to the most immediate needs of Syrian refugees, including their education and WASH needs, which have increased substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key planned results for 2021
1.7 million people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services
55,480 women and children accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation/ prevention/response
1.5 million children accessing educational services
100,000 households reached with cash transfers where UNICEF provided technical assistance
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Following a decade of hostilities in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis globally, with 5.6 million registered refugees, including over 2.5 million children, living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in camps, informal settlements and urban settings among host communities. In 2020, this situation was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. Of the 19.8 million people in need, including in host communities, 3.1 million people require WASH assistance, 3.3 million children require child protection services and 4.8 million children require education support.
While host governments are providing public services for refugees, vulnerability remains high and is exacerbated by the lack of livelihood opportunities, growing inequalities and economically strained institutions. In Egypt, for example, the unemployment rate among refugees is 29 per cent, compared with 8.9 per cent nationally. While Syrian refugees and host community households experience similar challenges, refugees face additional vulnerabilities and difficulty meeting their basic needs due to their legal status and the impact of residency and labour policies on their mobility. COVID-19 containment measures have compounded these challenges, further restricting mobility, generating a range of socio-economic consequences, and exacerbating protection risks for refugees and children. In just a year, Lebanon witnessed a 300 per cent increase in food prices.
Major challenges remain in realizing the rights of refugee children. Due to the protracted situation and the COVID-19 crisis, refugees are vulnerable to several protection risks, including psychosocial distress, child labour and domestic and sexual violence. Economic hardship has led some women and girls to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as child and forced marriage. The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have also disrupted and reduced access to health care, vaccinations and learning, and increased food insecurity and child poverty, resulting in an overall decline in children's well-being. In Turkey, learning has become even more out of reach for the most vulnerable children due to the pandemic, with access to distance learning limited by socio-economic status, lack of Turkish language skills and limited parental involvement. In Iraq, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunization coverage has declined from 96 per cent in July 2019 to 54 per cent in July 2020. Children and youth with disabilities have been acutely impacted as access to services continues to erode.
In 2021, UNICEF will reach 3.8 million Syrian refugee children in camps, informal settlements and urban settings and vulnerable children in host communities in line with the Syrian Refugee and Resilience Response Plan and the No Lost Generation initiative.
Across all five refugee-hosting countries, UNICEF will work closely with Refugee and Resilience Response Plan partners to support national efforts to address the refugee crisis, in line with national priorities and coordination mechanisms and fully integrating the COVID-19 response.
The response will support equitable access to essential services and build the capacities of national actors and systems, ensuring continuity with longer-term system strengthening strategies and durable solution frameworks and the integration of children and their families into national systems.
Education programmes will focus on enhancing access to and the quality of formal and regulated non-formal education. UNICEF will also support the establishment of safe environments conducive to learning. With partners, UNICEF will support national efforts promoting learning continuity, guide school reopenings, and ensure inclusive access to education through the provision of cash assistance and supplies.
In WASH, UNICEF will facilitate access to life-saving services, build resilience and strengthen durable solutions. Interventions, particularly in camps, will integrate COVID-19 infection prevention control and risk communication and community engagement activities.
Child protection programmes will focus on strengthening government prevention and response mechanisms, while supporting case management services and large-scale psychosocial and parenting activities in vulnerable communities. UNICEF will also strengthen the capacities of front-line government social service workers and community groups to promote child rights.
In health and nutrition, UNICEF will improve access to comprehensive primary health care, including vaccination, antenatal and postnatal care and nutrition, including through infant and young child feeding counselling and case management of illnesses. UNICEF will also strengthen community outreach, engagement and referrals to primary health care centres.
To address rising poverty levels, UNICEF will support the development and roll-out of national social protection programmes and direct cash grants to improve the well-being of the most vulnerable.
Through its adolescent and youth programmes, UNICEF will work to increase the quality of and access to technical and vocational training and skills-building programmes to improve employability, especially for young women. UNICEF will also increase opportunities for meaningful participation and empowerment, promote volunteerism and COVID-19 prevention and awareness.
Across programmes, UNICEF will foster gender equity and inclusion, to provide girls and children with disabilities with targeted support and create enabling environments. Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and gender-based violence will be mainstreamed by raising awareness and increasing the accessibility of secure and safe reporting channels. UNICEF will also improve its accountability to affected populations by strengthening established feedback mechanisms.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting Syrian refugees and other affected populations in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.