Geneva Palais briefing note on the situation of children in Afrin and Eastern Ghouta, Syria

23 March 2018

GENEVA, 23 March 2018 - This is a summary of what was said by Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Eastern Ghouta

The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have left Eastern Ghouta since 9 March has reached over 130,000, with more than 50  per cent estimated to be children. Of the 89,683 people who have arrived at IDP sites in Rural Damascus, 44,667 people remain inside the IDP sites as of 9 April. In addition, more than 50,000 combatants and their family members were transported to northwestern Syria in recent weeks.

UNICEF continues to support children and families through a multi-sectoral response in all of the collective shelters hosting IDPs from Eastern Ghouta. UNICEF also continues to support Health and Nutrition programmes in six newly accessible areas within Eastern Ghouta.

UNICEF’s support for children and families includes:

  • In the past week, around 12,000 cubic metres of safe water was trucked to 8 collective shelters, in addition to further installing tens of latrines and showers to the hundreds already installed in previous weeks. UNICEF continues to provide light rehabilitation and repair works in the shelters as needed.
  • On Health and Nutrition, outpatient consultation, preventive and curative nutrition services are provided to children and women in need in the newly accessible areas inside Eastern Ghouta (Saqba, Harasta, Zamalka, Arbin, Ein Tarma and Hazzeh) through UNICEF supported mobile medical teams.
  • In the eight collective shelters, UNICEF-Supported Mobile Medical Teams made up of around 70 health workers are providing Health and Nutrition services (medical consultations, vaccination and Nutrition essential services). Almost 9,000 consultations have been provided to children, women and men.
  • On Education, UNICEF with partners and the Department of Education, started education activities in 6 of the 8 collective shelters to bring children who have lost years of education back to school.
  • In four collective shelters, around 2,600 self-learning materials, school bags and supplies were delivered to initiate community learning sessions for school-aged children.
  • In two collective shelters -  Dweir and Herjelleh -  where schools already exist, more structured education activities are being initiated.
  • In Herjelleh, where around 8,000 school aged children now live, 150 school-in-a-box kits and 50 recreational kits have been delivered with prefabricated classrooms being readied to welcome students in three shifts.
  • In Dweir, where 1,700 school aged children now live, children are accommodated in the available school in 2 shifts, 650 school bags were distributed to newly displaced children from EG in the school. As well as, 10 school in a carton kits and 5 recreational kits were delivered to the available school.
  • On Child Protection, Child Friendly Spaces are providing recreational activities for children in 6 collective shelters in addition to Child Protection Desks through which comprehensive protection services are provided to children and families.


Military confrontations in the Afrin district of Aleppo governorate since 20 January have displaced an estimated 137,070 people to the Tall Refaat area, Nabul and Zahraa, Fafin, and surrounding villages. Some 50,000 – 70,000 individuals are believed to remain inside Afrin city. Previous displacement estimates have recently been revised downwards following assessments carried out in the area by the UN and partner organizations. The majority of IDPs (90,250 individuals) are currently located in Tall Refaat and ten other villages, while 20,000 individuals are in Nabul, 10,000 in Zahraa and 15,000 in Kafr Naseh and Fafin.

Most of the displaced individuals in Tall Refaat are staying in abandoned houses, often with several families to a room. Some families stay in mosques and schools, while other IDPs are sheltering in the open. IDPs in Nabul and Zahraa are either staying in collective shelters, such as mosques and private halls or are renting houses.

UNICEF, through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, provided 40 water tanks with capacity of 5,000 litres each to Fafin IDPs camp and IDPs collective points in Fafin village. In addition, drinking water trucking continues with the capacity of 200 cubic meters on a daily basis benefiting around 15,000 IDPs. Simultaneously, water trucking continues in Tal Refaat and surrounding areas in addition to Nubul and Zahraa with the capacity of 1000 cubic meters benefiting around 65,000 IDPs.

Fixed and mobile health units are providing health and nutrition support to thousands of children and women. In Tal Rafaat, around 4,500 children received primary health care services. Routine immunization and nutrition screenings also continue in all three locations.

UNICEF supported the provision of protection services for 1,000 people in Tal Refaat and surrounding villages; including child protection, psychosocial support, risk education and case management service. UNICEF delivered risk education (MRE) supplies enough for 10,000 children through Tal Refaat convoy.


Notes for editors:

Photos and b-roll are available for download here:

Media Contacts

Christophe Boulierac
Tel: +41 (0)22 909 5716
Tel: +41 (0) 799639244
Joe English
Tel: +1 917 893 0692


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