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Press release

UNICEF scales up emergency health and nutrition response to meet increasing needs of children affected by crisis in Syria

AMMAN, 6 September 2012 – Thousands of Syrian children are being screened to prevent malnutrition as part of a regional response to meet the growing health and nutrition needs of an estimated 1.3 million children affected by the ongoing crisis – including children inside Syria and in surrounding countries.

The nutrition screening in Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan is taking place in parallel with a weekly immunization clinic in the camp. UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partner agencies, will also launch a large-scale polio and measles vaccination campaign targeting more than 100,000 children in Za’atari, nearby transit centres, and communities hosting refugees in northern Jordan.

“Conflict has disrupted health services across Syria so most refugee children and their families have not had access to routine immunizations or other basic health services,” says UNICEF Middle East Regional Health Advisor Mahendra Sheth. “This work is vital because during a crisis children are most vulnerable to disease outbreaks and malnutrition, especially children living in camp settings like Za’atari.”

Under extremely difficult conditions, UNICEF and local partners in Syria are also reaching families sheltering in schools across Damascus with life-saving health care. Eight mobile medical teams are to be dispatched to reach 175,000 people in many regions hardest hit by the ongoing conflict including Aleppo, Damascus, Dara’a, Hama and Homs. Rapid assessments to monitor the nutritional situation of children are to also be scaled up in Damascus and rural Damascus.

In Lebanon and Iraq, where more than 40,000 and 15,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering respectively, immunizations are also being provided and the nutritional status of children 5 years of age and under is being monitored closely.

“The health and nutrition needs of Syrian children across the region are rapidly increasing so we must act now to ensure they are protected,” says UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director Maria Calivis.

UNICEF is appealing to the international community for increased funding of its emergency water, sanitation, education, health and nutrition programmes which are reaching tens of thousands of Syrian children and their families in Syria and neighbouring countries.

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UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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Simon Ingram, UNICEF MENA Regional Office,
Mobile + 962 79 590 4740,

Kent Page, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7605,




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