UNICEF scales up emergency help to Syria’s children and families in face of worsening conflict and funding gaps
GENEVA/DAMASCUS, 19 February 2013 – Despite worsening violence and significant funding gaps, UNICEF is stepping up its delivery of humanitarian assistance in Syria, targeting increasing numbers of the more than 4 million people known to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
At least half of the total affected population are children. Many have been internally displaced by conflict, live in collective shelters with few belongings and often lack the most basic essentials.
"Even as the situation deteriorates, UNICEF has managed to expand its operations to deliver essential relief supplies like blankets, children's clothes, hygiene items, plastic sheets, and high-energy biscuits," said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Syria. "Many of these deliveries were made as part of recent cross-line operations."
"With the security situation as it is currently, it's been a huge challenge to be able to reach some of these areas" added Mr. Abdel-Jelil. "But thanks to the efforts of our partners and our own staff on the ground, we have succeeded in making real progress."
Most recently, UNICEF was part of an inter-agency mission that on Saturday delivered a first batch of critical and life-saving relief items to 6,000 internally displaced people in Karameh in Syria's northwestern Idleb province.
Some of the cities reached in the past three weeks have experienced prolonged and severe conflict. In the northern city of Aleppo, for example, UNICEF and its local partners have distributed 45,000 blankets and quilts – items that are desperately needed during the current winter.
In Deir Ez-Zor, Al-Hasaka, Homs, Idleb, Al-Raqqa and Damascus, meanwhile, a total of 90,000 blankets were distributed to children and their families, along with 14,000 plastic sheets and more than 10,000 sets of children's clothes. In Tartus and Homs, including Talbiseh, UNICEF reached 7,000 children with 176 school-in-a-carton kits, which contain educational materials.
The latest deliveries coincide with an operation to deliver 1,000 metric tons of water treatment supplies to Syria. The chlorine is needed so water for an estimated 10 million people in different parts of the country remains safe to drink, and to avoid the risk of water-borne disease. UNICEF estimates that due to the destruction of water infrastructure, water availability in some areas has dropped to a third of pre-conflict levels.
Lack of funding remains a major bottleneck for UNICEF scaling up its humanitarian response. The agency is appealing for US$68 million to provide urgent humanitarian assistance in Syria for water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, psychosocial support as part of a UN-wide appeal issued last December. So far, less than 20 per cent of that amount has been received.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria in March 2011, UNICEF has vaccinated 1.3 million children against measles; enrolled 35,000 children in learning programmes; provided more than 26,000 people with drinking water; and reached 32,000 children with psychosocial support.
For further information, please contact:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9157
+6012 292 6872
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9154 ext. 2236
+6012 658 5160