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Number of Syrian children in need increases by 2 million


Number of Syrian children in need increases by 2 million while UNICEF’s funding crisis looms

Donate to UNICEF’s Syria appeal at www.unicef.org.nz/syria

Well into the fourth year of the Syrian crisis, its impact on children is becoming ever more devastating, newly-released United Nations data shows.

The data, which accompany a revised UN funding appeal for its response to the crisis across the region, shows that 6.5 million Syrian children now need immediate humanitarian assistance, whether inside the country or living as refugees. The number is an increase of more than two million compared to just one year ago.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ said, “The scale of this emergency is continuing to expand and with that so has the number of children affected.

“Further compounding this tragic reality are the constant threats and dangers children have to face on a daily basis, above and beyond being surrounded by extreme violence and having to witness unspeakable horrors.

“Polio is once again an immediate threat and access to clean and safe water is increasingly becoming a major concern due in large part to deteriorating and severely damaged infrastructure as well as low rainfall. This is resulting in increased rates of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera. The summer season only further heightens the lack of access to crucial water supplies.

“New Zealand donors have been incredibly generous with their support to date but the needs are astronomical and we continue to call on Kiwis to help by donating whatever they can – no amount is too little.”

Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said, “These figures confirm the devastating impact this conflict is having on the lives of Syria’s children.”

“Children are seeing their homes, schools, health centres and communities targeted and destroyed. Millions of dreams and hopes are being shattered. This is no time for the world to look away.”

It’s a sense of loss and fear that Syrian children themselves continue to convey vividly. Ala’a*, 13- year old boy from Aleppo who now lives as a refugee in Turkey, told a UNICEF staffer: “We left our village to escape the bombing. We drove for three hours to get close to the border and once night fell, we walked another three hours to cross into Turkey. There were many checkpoints along the way. I saw people carrying guns and I was scared.”

The violence, coupled with repeated displacement, mounting evidence of disease outbreaks including polio and measles and a break-down of vital services like water, sanitation and education, are prompting UNICEF to redouble its efforts to reach as many children as possible inside war-torn Syria and in the neighbouring countries.

Inside Syria so far this year and despite huge obstacles due to the violence and access restrictions, UNICEF with partners has helped ensure the availability of safe water for nearly 17 million people, as well as supporting the vaccination of 2.9 million children against polio – part of an unprecedented regional immunization campaign reaching 25 million children. Meanwhile, as part of efforts to meet the needs of children directly affected by the conflict, UNICEF has provided 114,000 children with education materials and 34,000 children with psychological support.

But lack of funding threatens UNICEF’s ability to continue providing vital assistance to children; the agency has a gap of US$ 487 million to cover its emergency programmes for children inside Syria and in neighbouring countries by end of 2014.
“We are very grateful to our donors who have been extremely generous. But without fresh resources our operations – including life-saving water and sanitation interventions for refugees in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan – will inevitably interrupted and some might be completely stopped”, said Calivis.

Donate to UNICEF’s Syria appeal at www.unicef.org.nz/syria

*Name has been changed

ends

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