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Map of Syrian refugees
UNICEF photo: a family sits under a tree beside a tent, posing for a photo © UNICEF/2016/Rich A Syrian refugee family in the Jordan Valley who fled their home when the war reached their community. With UNICEF support, the children are attending a “My Space” learning centre with vulnerable Jordanian children from the host community.

Syrian refugees

and other affected populations in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
2.97 million

people with sustained access to adequate quantity of safe water

1 million

children enrolled in formal education


children participating in child protection or psychosocial support programmes

2017 Requirements: US$1,041,550,413

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Total people in need: 20 million1
Total children (<18) in need: 9.2 million2

Total people to be reached in 2017: 5.1 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 2.8 million3

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. Countries neighbouring the Syrian Arabic Republic are hosting more than 4.8 million registered Syrian refugees, including more than 2.2 million children.4 By the end of November 2016, Turkey had the highest number of registered Syrian refugees (2,764,500), followed by Lebanon (1,017,433), Jordan (655,833), Iraq (227,971) and Egypt (115,204).5 Depleted resources, the high cost of living and restricted livelihood opportunities due to lack of access to employment and legal residency are making it difficult for vulnerable families to meet their own and their children’s basic needs. Too many Syrian refugee families are forced to resort to negative coping practices, which often lead to early marriage and child labour. Syrian refugees, including unaccompanied and separated children who lack legal documentation, are also in constant fear of being exposed and therefore are vulnerable to exploitation such as working in low-paying and dangerous jobs. The overall situation is exacerbated by weak economic growth in host countries, overstretched resources and services that are struggling to meet the additional needs of affected local communities.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets


  • 400,000 children enrolled in formal education
  • 200,000 children benefiting from cash grants for education
  • 100,000 children participating in child protection or psychosocial support programmes
  • 165,000 individuals reached with cash-based winter assistance


  • 364,000 children enrolled in formal education
  • 690,000 people with sustained access to adequate quantity of safe water
  • 138,000 girls, women and community members sensitized on key gender-based violence issues
  • 45,000 children benefiting from cash grants for education


  • 195,000 children enrolled in formal education
  • 150,000 children participating in child protection or psychosocial support programmes
  • 1,983,000 beneficiaries with access to an adequate quantity of safe water (infrastructure)
  • 20,500 families received monthly cash assistance


  • 32,900 boys and girls enrolled in formal primary education
  • 22,000 children participating in child protection or psychosocial support programmes
  • 298,000 individuals benefited from improved access to adequate quantity of safe water in camps
  • 30,000 households received multi-purpose cash assistance


  • 20,000 children enrolled in formal education
  • 3,000 children benefiting from cash grants for education
  • 25,000 children, adolescents and youth participating in psychosocial support services, life skills training and child protection programmes
  • 72,000 population supported to access health supplies

Under the 2017–2018 inter-agency Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan, the humanitarian response will be increasingly combined with efforts to build the medium- and long-term resilience of affected individuals, households, communities and institutions in the five refugee-hosting countries. The UNICEF response covers 2017 and 2018, with planned actions based on previous years’ results to achieve scale up for the most vulnerable, as well as operational efficiencies. Under the No Lost Generation initiative, UNICEF will enhance the quality of and access to integrated child protection, education, youth engagement and livelihood programmes for Syrian refugee and vulnerable host community children and youth. Nutritional screening and the provision of micronutrients and supplements for the most vulnerable will be reinforced as will vaccination through campaigns and routine immunization systems, including against polio and measles. The welfare of the most vulnerable refugees and members of impacted communities will be improved through child cash grants designed to facilitate access to basic services. The humanitarian water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) response will remain a top priority and will include building resilience by supporting national efforts and systems to expand sustainable access to adequate and equitable WASH services in communities and schools. UNICEF will also increase its humanitarian response to Syrian refugees in the Berm area at the Jordan–Syrian Arab Republic border. UNICEF will deliver programmes in coordination with the operations described in the separate Humanitarian Action for Children appeals for the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$627.8 million against the US$856.5 million appeal (73 per cent funded).6 In 2016, UNICEF’s response continued to support government and partner efforts to deliver essential services in refugee camps and host communities. With outreach campaigns, more than 680,000 children across the region enrolled in formal education and more than 75,000 accessed informal education. Limited capacity across education systems in the region meant that more than 700,000 children (48 per cent of school-aged children) remain out of school; scale up is planned for 2017, however. UNICEF supported national protection systems and reached more than 386,000 children with psychosocial support. To maintain the region polio free, UNICEF and partners vaccinated more than 17.6 million children under 5 in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. WASH services focused on the delivery of adequate and sustainable supply of safe water in refugee camps and host communities. For Syrians living in host communities, UNICEF provided support in the most vulnerable areas, despite challenges related to the cost and reliability of services. More than 169,000 people benefited from hygiene promotion sessions and/or received hygiene kits. UNICEF sustained cash programmes that benefited 19,000 families in Egypt, Iraq and Jordan and one-off cash grants/vouchers were distributed to more than 260,000 people in Lebanon and Turkey. Basic assistance to Syrian refugees and affected populations will continue in 2017–2018 in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Funding requirements7

In line with the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2017–2018, UNICEF is requesting US$1,038,946,413 for 2017 and US$1,017,091,992 for 2018 to meet the humanitarian and resilience needs of Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children in the region. The funds will be critical to UNICEF’s ability to continue to deliver life-saving services and to ensure national and community-based systems are supported from both access and quality perspectives. In 2017, the increase in the UNICEF Turkey budget will support the scale-up of the child protection, basic needs/non-food items and education responses for Syrian refugees and affected host communities. In Jordan, the increased budget will support the scale-up of the basic needs/non-food items, youth and adolescents, education and child protection responses. The regional funding requirement will cover regional support and quality assurance to the response in the five refugee-hosting countries, including ensuring contingency stocks are in place. This Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for Syrian refugees and other affected populations is complementary to the separate Humanitarian Action for Children appeals for the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq. The budget in this chapter is not reflected in those chapters.

1 Estimated number includes Syrian refugees and host population.
2 Ibid.
3 Excludes 15 million children under 5 to be reached through polio vaccination in Egypt.
4 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2017–2018.
5 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees data portal as of November 2016.
6 Available funds excluded US$4.7 million for the Madad Fund received as development funding and included US$183,775,208 carried forward from the previous year.
7 The UNICEF funding levels for Iraq and Jordan are somewhat different in Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 than in the 3RP inter-agency appeal, pending finalization of the 3RP at the country level.
8 Cash assistance is covered under child protection in Egypt; social policy and basic needs in Jordan; basic needs, education and child protection in Turkey; education and social inclusion (basic assistance) in Lebanon and basic needs in Iraq.
9 The budget for the Palestinian refugees programme in Lebanon covers interventions in education, child protection, social stability, WASH and health.