© UNICEF/HQ07-0737/Noorani

An Iraqi refugee family during an electrical blackout in Damascus, capital of the Syrian Arab Republic. An estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria but many can neither work nor attend school.


Deteriorating security and rising violence inside Iraq has prompted an unprecedented exodus of Iraqis from the country. Some 2 million Iraqis who fled Iraq have been taken in by neighbouring countries. Syria, who is hosting approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, is the country most affected by this displacement. The Government of Syria (GoS) has generously accepted these refugees as guests, and allowed some access to its social services infrastructure.


UNICEF is actively supporting and facilitating coordination in the education, health and nutrition sectors. UNICEF is taking the lead in understanding and addressing the protection needs of the displaced Iraqi children in Syria. In 2008 UNICEF expects to reach a minimum of 100,000 children in the education sector. The health needs of the 1.5 million displaced Iraqis in Syria are of serious concern. UNICEF plans to continue working with partners to reach the most vulnerable groups among Iraqi refugees, mainly women and children.

Health and nutrition: UNICEF will conduct large-scale social mobilization and awareness-raising to mobilize Iraqi refugees’ community leaders; provide community-based education for women/families on basic child and maternal health care and nutrition; and improve health care-seeking behaviour throughout Iraqi communities. Additionally, UNICEF will establish a monitoring and evaluation task force to evaluate primary health-care services and ensure quality and effective delivery; establish a monitoring system to ensure that all prepositioned supplies are up-to-date and in the correct location; establish a coordination mechanism with other agencies providing health care to Iraqis in Syria; and develop an advocacy strategy to ensure access to, and quality of, health-care services.

Education: UNICEF will undertake phase 2 and phase 3 of its education strategy to ensure that more Iraqi children and adolescents resume schooling, and to assist Syrian schools with this sudden influx. These two phases include: continued provision of equipment to schools; enhancing school libraries; supplying teaching materials to improve learning environment; undertaking minor rehabilitation and maintenance of sanitation facilities; leading a forum on the ‘child-friendly school’ initiative; organizing 18 training of trainers workshops for school heads and inspectors on school management and child protection; leading a seminar on the evaluation of school projects; providing extracurricular equipment to schools as well as recreational and psychosocial supplies related to the planned activities.

Child protection: UNICEF will expand the existing ‘child-friendly spaces’ (CFSs) model in the Syrian Arab Red Crescent/UNHCR community centres as well as in cultural centres in Iraqi areas; reinforce the existing CFS in Douma registration centre, and add an adolescent component; create ‘adolescent spaces’ – with life skills training, HIV/AIDS prevention and empowerment components; establish ‘meet-a-mother’ groups in the community and cultural centres in Iraqi areas; continue to train Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers for CFSs, ‘adolescent spaces’ and ‘meet-a-mother’ groups. Additionally, UNICEF will establish a mechanism to identify and refer the most vulnerable cases from CFSs to psychological/psychiatric counselling. Primary health centres and psychosocial centres will provide psychosocial help to refugees in Seyda Zeynab. A shelter for victims of trafficking is being planned.

Summary of UNICEF financial needs for 2008
Sector US$
Health and nutrition 7,400,000
Education 24,000,000
Child protection 4,000,000
Total* 35,400,000

*The total includes a maximum recovery rate of 7 per cent. The actual recovery rate on contributions will be calculated in accordance with UNICEF Executive Board Decision 2006/7 dated 9 June 2006.


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