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Another harsh winter bears down on Syria’s children


Displaced Syrian children particularly vulnerable to cold weather, inadequate water and sanitation

GENEVA / AMMAN, 3 December 2013 – Nearly 5.5 million vulnerable Syrian children will soon face another season of harsh winter weather. This past January brought the coldest temperatures in more than a decade and UNICEF is very concerned that exposure to similarly cold and wet conditions will place further strain on the health and wellbeing of displaced Syrian children.

The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented. In December of last year, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Today, as the conflict approaches its three year mark, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively.

"Millions of displaced Syrian children have had to find safety under what are, frankly, inadequate living conditions," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "When freezing temperatures and rain are added to the mix, children under five are especially susceptible to opportunistic illnesses like acute respiratory infections which spread easily in overcrowded settings."

There are currently more than 436,000 Syrian refugee children under the age of five in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa living in refugee camps, tented settlements and host communities. "Together with our partners, we have already mobilized emergency supplies in Syria and the region to keep children warm, dry and healthy this winter," said Calivis.

The situation facing the more than 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Lebanon is especially precarious as thousands of families are currently sheltering in tented settlements on flood-prone land. Should tents and latrines be flooded with rain, there is an increased risk of exposure to water borne diseases.

UNICEF in Lebanon is distributing 88,000 winter clothing kits to children living in tented settlements across the country. Each kit includes a jacket, waterproof boots, gloves, scarf, wool hat and warm underclothes. UNICEF is also working to reinforce drainage systems, desludge waste tanks and construct concrete foundations for families in tents. Additional supplies such as energy boilers for hot showers are also being placed in camps.

§ In Syria itself, UNICEF plans to reach 2,000,000 children with a package of emergency supplies for the winter. The package will include winter clothing for children, blankets, plastic sheeting, and hygiene kits.

§ In Jordan, UNICEF will provide 35,000 winter clothing kits for Syrian refugee children under five, in addition to 24,000 blankets.

§ To keep children in school, UNICEF is procuring 370 winterized tents for classrooms and child friendly spaces in Syrian refugee camps in Iraq and Turkey, along with fuel for heating.

About UNICEF: UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for the children of Syria, please visit: or


For further information, please contact:

Simon Ingram,
UNICEF Regional Office
Middle East and North Africa

Juliette Touma,
UNICEF Regional Office
Middle East and North Africa



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