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
- After 12 years of conflict, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis in the world. Nearly 5.6 million registered refugees - including more than 2.6 million children - reside in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye. Meanwhile, the many effects of climate change, particularly a deepening water crisis and the rise in communicable diseases such as cholera, are impacting families’ health and livelihoods, further compounding their vulnerability. More than 21 million refugees and host community members, including nearly 8.6 million children, need urgent assistance.
- UNICEF continues to reach refugee children living in camps, informal settlements and urban settings - as well as vulnerable children from host communities - with essential education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection, health, nutrition and social protection services, and with adolescent and youth programmes. UNICEF is also mainstreaming gender and gender-based violence prevention and mitigation in its response.
- In 2023, UNICEF requires US$867.3 million to respond to the immediate needs of 4.2 million Syrian refugees and vulnerable people in host communities in the five targeted countries, while at the same time mitigating the challenges related to widening inequalities, weakened social cohesion and increased health and protection risks.
Key planned results for 2023
1.8 million children and women accessing primary health care
369,100 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
1.7 million children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
594,500 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
After nearly 12 years of conflict, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis in the world, with no end in sight. Nearly 5.6 million registered refugees – including more than 2.6 million children – still live in camps, informal settlements and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye. Of the 21 million people in need, 8 million people require child protection services, 4.8 million people require health and nutrition support, 4.2 million children require education services and 3.3 million people require WASH assistance.
Although host governments continue to generously provide essential services for vulnerable refugees and affected host communities, public resources and infrastructure are increasingly stretched thin. While Syrian and host community families experience similar hardships, Syrians face additional challenges in meeting their basic needs due to their legal status. This has resulted in widening inequalities, weakened social cohesion and increased health and protection risks.
The war in Ukraine has resulted in widespread grain shortages and skyrocketing prices for essential commodities. The many effects of climate change – particularly a deepening water crisis and the rise in communicable diseases – are increasingly impacting families’ health and livelihoods, further compounding their vulnerability. In late 2022, an outbreak of cholera in the northern part of the Syrian Arab Republic spread to Lebanon, while in Iraq, where the disease is endemic, the number of cases increased, putting refugee and host communities at high risk and burdening the already overstretched health systems in the region.
In Türkiye, 400,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children are out of school. The situation for refugees has been exacerbated by the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and inflation in the country hit 80 per cent (the highest rate in 24 years). In Lebanon, economic collapse has also led to runaway inflation: nearly the entire Syrian refugee population is unable to afford the survival minimal expenditure basket. In Egypt and Jordan, deteriorating economic conditions have impacted all sectors and rising food prices are placing a serious strain on refugee households. In Iraq, the water crisis and drought-like conditions, particularly in refugee-hosting areas, is leading to increased risks of public health emergencies and disease outbreaks.
Within this context, major challenges remain in upholding children’s rights. Refugee children – particularly girls and those out of school – are highly vulnerable to numerous protection risks, including psychosocial distress, exploitation and gender-based violence. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt access to routine immunization and formal education, while increased food insecurity and poverty are resulting in an overall decline in children's well-being. Vulnerable families struggling to survive are increasingly resorting to such negative coping mechanisms as child labour and child marriage. Children and youth with disabilities are also acutely marginalized because access to services remain out of reach.
In 2023, UNICEF will reach 3 million Syrian children in camps, informal settlements and urban settings, as well as vulnerable children in host communities.
UNICEF will sustain efforts to strengthen the resilience of host countries and governments, with continued efforts to build capacity at national and subnational levels and increase multisectoral programming with local authorities. The response will support equitable access to essential services, ensuring continuity with longer-term systems strengthening strategies and durable solutions frameworks.
In all five countries, UNICEF will work closely with governments and non-governmental organization partners to address the refugee crisis and mitigate the secondary effects of the cholera outbreak. UNICEF response will be aligned with national priorities and coordination mechanisms.
Education programmes will enhance access to quality, inclusive formal and non-formal learning opportunities in safe, child-friendly environments, with refugee children integrated within national education systems and an emphasis on inclusion of those who are out of school or at risk of exploitation and of minorities and those with disabilities. UNICEF will also support learning continuity and provide cash assistance and supplies for the most vulnerable families.
In WASH, UNICEF will facilitate access to life-saving services, build resilience and strengthen durable solutions in light of the growing water scarcity crisis and subsequent rise in communicable diseases such as cholera. Interventions, particularly in camps and schools, will integrate infection prevention and control and risk communication and community engagement activities.
Child protection programmes will focus on strengthening national prevention and response, while supporting case management and large-scale psychosocial and parenting activities in vulnerable communities. UNICEF will also strengthen the capacities of front-line 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 infant and young child feeding counselling. UNICEF will also strengthen community outreach and referrals to primary health care centres.
To address rising poverty levels and socioeconomic shocks, UNICEF will support the roll-out of national social protection programmes and direct cash grants for the most vulnerable.
Adolescent and youth programmes will expand access to quality technical and vocational opportunities, especially for young women, and will promote social cohesion by increasing positive relationships between host and refugee communities and the participation of adolescents and youth.
UNICEF will foster gender equity and inclusion by providing girls and children with disabilities with targeted support. 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; and will support community engagement and mobilization to improve demand for childhood immunization and mitigate misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.
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 Türkiye, 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.