After more than a decade of conflict, children continue to pay the heaviest price.
Crisis in Syria: What you need to know
What is happening in the Syrian Arab Republic?
More than a decade of humanitarian crisis and hostilities has left children in Syria facing one of the most complex emergencies in the world. Two thirds of the population requires assistance because of a worsening economic crisis, continued localized hostilities, mass displacement and devastated public infrastructure.
Around 90 per cent of families in the country live in poverty, while more than 50 per cent are food insecure. The economic crisis is worsening negative coping mechanisms and particularly affecting female-headed households while contributing to the normalization of gender-based violence and child exploitation.
Harsh winter weather with freezing temperatures and heavy rains is set to make things worse. Scarcity of fuel and lack of means for heating will make it extremely challenging for many people to make ends meet.
For families with children, living in urban slums where housing infrastructure has been destroyed and where there is high level of displacement and poverty, fending off the cold, let alone providing for their children’s basic needs, can be an enormous challenge.
On 10 September 2022, a cholera outbreak was declared in Syria. By 10 November, suspected cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) had surpassed 35,000, with cases detected in all governorates. To keep children and communities safe, UNICEF is continuing to invest in preventive measures and efforts to implement a rapid response to curb the spread of the disease and limit its negative impacts.
How have children been affected?
For many children in Syria, war is the only thing they know. They continue to live in fear of violence, landmines, and explosive remnants of war. They struggle with physical and psychological scars of war.
The war has also brought one of the largest education crises in recent history, with a whole generation of Syrian children paying the price of conflict. Education facilities are overstretched, and many schools cannot be used because they have been destroyed, damaged, shelter displaced families or are being used for military purposes. By late 2022, only two-thirds of schools were fully functional, while there were 2.4 million children out of school and 1.6 million at risk of dropping out.
Children with disabilities carry a double burden when it comes to violence, threats to their health and safety, hunger, risk of abuse, and loss of education. Lack of mobility and difficulty fleeing harm have further compounded the challenges they face.
What is UNICEF doing to help children in the Syrian crisis?
Across Syria and in the neighbouring countries, UNICEF and partners continue to work to protect children, to help them cope with the impact of conflict. This includes improving psychosocial support to help children and caregivers recover from trauma, as well as delivering lifesaving support and services for children struggling physically and psychologically.
Working with partners, UNICEF continues to deliver assistance including hygiene kits, safe drinking water, and screening and treatment of malnutrition. As part of its winter response, UNICEF and partners will provide fuel for heating and heaters in schools and learning spaces, and will also fix and insulate windows to provide children an opportunity to continue learning amid the harsh weather conditions. Read more about UNICEF’s work and results in the country.
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Syrian crisis snapshot
What UNICEF is doing in Syria
UNICEF and partners are on the ground in Syria and across the region working to protect children, to help them cope with the impact of conflict and to resume their childhoods. This includes improving access to education and psychosocial support services to help children and caregivers to recover from trauma and to restore a sense of normalcy.
UNICEF delivers critical humanitarian assistance, such as vaccines and other health and nutrition items across the country, including accessing hard-to-reach areas. Meanwhile, UNICEF and partners are improving school facilities, training teachers and repairing water and sanitation facilities.