Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
NEW YORK, 1 February 2020 – “The crisis in northwest Syria is turning into a child protection crisis of unprecedented scale. Violence over the past week has forced 6,500 children to flee every day, bringing the total number of displaced children in the area to more than 300,000 since early December.
“UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are in desperate need. Food, water and medicine are in short supply. Children and families are taking refuge in public facilities, schools, mosques, unfinished buildings and shops. Many are simply living in the open air including in parks, amidst heavy rains and in the freezing cold. Access to the most basic services like health, water or sanitation is either very limited or non-existent.
“In Idlib, where more than three quarters of the population in need are women and children, many families have suffered multiple displacements and are increasingly desperate – with no way to safely escape the violence.
“The crisis is taking a deadly toll on children: Of the 900 children killed in Syria in the past year alone as a result of the conflict, more than 75 per cent were in the northwest. Idlib recorded the highest number of child casualties.
“Through our partners on the ground, UNICEF continues to deliver assistance to families in need including those recently displaced. This assistance includes hygiene kits, safe water, vaccination for children against diseases and screening and treatment of malnutrition.
“The delivery of lifesaving assistance is critical and should continue. It will not, however, bring an end to children’s suffering.
“Violence must stop, for the sake of children.
“UNICEF calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties to allow children and families respite from the violence, the resumption of basic services and the unimpeded delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance to every child in need.”
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 children, visit www.unicef.org.
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