Syrian Children's Crisis
Early in 2022, the conflict in Syria ticked past 11 years, a grim milestone for everyone impacted, but especially for children.
Syrian kids remain the most at risk, and although UNICEF is doing whatever we can to support them, we need your help.
Right now, 6.5 million Syrian children need urgent humanitarian assistance*.
Every day is a struggle for parents. They face the ongoing challenge of keeping their kids safe, making sure they have clean drinking water, food, healthcare, shelter and can continue their education.
While the Syria conflict may not be getting the media attention right now, the needs of children remain critical.
Please can you support Syrian children today.
A girl standing next to the water trucking point, supported by UNICEF and partners, in Maishiyah neighbourhood, Hasakah city, northeast Syria, on 28 September 2022.
UNICEF & Partners Are On The Ground
In Syria and surrounding countries, UNICEF is providing children with the critical help they need to cope with the impact of conflict and ongoing displacement.
UNICEF is continuing to deliver and facilitate vital humanitarian assistance such as providing vaccines, healthcare, clean water and nutrition treatment – whilst providing or repairing sanitation facilities and getting children into education.
Syria Crisis Snapshot+
Appeal information updated 8th November 2022.
Your life-saving monthly donations will support this appeal for 6 months. After that they will go into our Global Parent fund to save and protect children worldwide.
By supporting UNICEF Aotearoa’s Syria appeal, you’ll be helping provide Syrian children and families with urgent life-saving supplies and essential aid.
Your gift will support the ongoing response and be used where it’s needed most. In 2022, UNICEF is focused on providing a range of support, including healthcare and nutrition treatment to children, providing clean water and sanitation facilities for families, and access to mental health and psychosocial support for children and caregivers.
Your caring donation will help**:
- Treat 18,400 malnourished children under 5
- Vaccinate 3.2 million children against deadly polio
- Provide clean water to more than 3.6 million people
- Get 2.3 million children into formal education
- Provide mine risk education and assistance to more than 1.95 million children
- Provide improved sanitation services to 1.95 million people
You can make a huge difference - please donate now and help give Syrian children the essentials of hope.
Supporting the future of Syria and the region
Published on Fri Jun 03 2022
UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell reflects on the situation in Syria, from the Brussels VI conference.
"Syria today is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child. An entire generation is struggling to survive."
"Nearly 90 per cent of people in Syria live in poverty. More than 6.5 million children need urgent assistance – the greatest number of Syrian children in need since the conflict began.
"Eleven years of conflict and sanctions have had a devastating impact on Syria’s economy, setting development back 25 years. Most of the basic systems and services children depend on – health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and social protection – have been cut to the bone.
"Families are struggling to put food on the table."
"Between February and March this year, the price of the standard food basket jumped by nearly 24 per cent.
"Nearly one-third of all children are chronically malnourished. And the impact of the war in Ukraine on food prices is making a bad situation even worse.
"These are dangerous, even deadly, times to be a child in Syria.
"Attacks on civilian infrastructure have become commonplace. More than 600 medical facilities, among them maternal and children’s hospitals, have come under attack.
"Since the war began, we can verify that nearly 13,000 children have been killed or injured – but we know the toll is much higher.
"The war hasn’t only scarred Syria’s children physically. Last year, one-third of all children in Syria showed signs of psychological distress – invisible wounds that can last a lifetime.
"Children who have fled the war in Syria have also experienced trauma. Roughly 2.8 million Syrian children are now living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey.
"These children’s lives are riddled with loss, risk, and uncertainty.
As one 11-year-old girl told a UNICEF staff member, “I don’t know what the word home means.”
"Eleven years of war, disruption, and displacement have also threatened the education of an entire generation. More than 3 million Syrian children are still out of school. But against all odds, approximately 4.5 million children from Syria have access to learning opportunities.
"This is thanks to generous funding from donors through initiatives like No Lost Generation, co-led by UNICEF. But it could not be happening without the continuous efforts of local communities, teachers, civil society, and international organisations.
"I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and commend the generosity and commitment that neighbouring countries – their governments and their people – continue to show.
"Many of these countries face their own challenges. Hosting so many children and their families is an additional strain, which makes their generosity even more remarkable.
"We know that other crises affecting children are dominating headlines. But the world must not forget Syria’s children.
"Their lives are just as precious – and their futures are just as important.
"First and foremost, they need an end to this long, fruitless war. There can be no military solution to this crisis. Only peace can prevent Syria’s children from truly becoming a lost generation.
"We also call for an immediate end to all grave violations against children in Syria, including the killing and injuring of children.
"Until a sustainable solution can be reached, UNICEF and our partners will continue to do everything we can to reach every child, wherever they are.
"The renewal of the Security Council Resolution permitting UN partners to deliver assistance to northern Syria is a critical milestone. We also need to scale up recovery all over Syria – restoring basic systems and services in every sector, to reach every child.
"That includes investing in and removing barriers to education. These children are the future of Syria. They need an education and skills to help rebuild their country when peace is restored.
"We cannot help the children of Syria without sustained flexible support. UNICEF currently requires US$312 million to respond in Syria and urgently requires an additional US$20 million to support our work in northwest Syria. To date, we have received less than half of what we require to respond to the needs of Syrian children.
"We are counting on you to provide that support. More important, Syria’s children are counting on all of us."
11 years of war leaves Syrian children with physical and psychological scars
Published on Wed Apr 13 2022
It's been eleven years since the crisis began in Syria. Violence, displacement, and lack of access to essential services have plagued the country every day since.
Children’s lives remain the most at risk.
In 2021, nearly 900 children in Syria lost their lives or were injured. This brings the total number of children killed and injured since the beginning of the crisis to nearly 13,000.
Landmines, explosive remnants of war and unexploded ordnance were the leading cause of child casualties last year. They accounted for nearly one third of all recorded injuries and deaths, and left many children with lifelong disabilities.
"Nearly 5 million children have been born in Syria since 2011,” said UNICEF Syria Representative, Bo Viktor Nylund.
“They have known nothing but war and conflict. In many parts of Syria, they continue to live in fear of violence, landmines, and explosive remnants of war."“I used to be on the offense and score many goals, but now I can only be a goalkeeper,” says the Bashar (11) from rural Damascus.
Three years ago, Bashar was playing football with his two older brothers and their friends when they ran over an unexploded ordnance on the ground. The missile exploded, killing Bashar’s brothers and causing him to lose his two legs.
The crisis continues to leave Syrian children with psychological scars.
Last year, 1 in 3 children in Syria showed signs of psychological distress including anxiety, sadness, fatigue, or frequent trouble sleeping.
While UNICEF does not have accurate figures on children with disabilities, it is evident that children with disabilities carry a double burden when it comes to violence, threats to their health and safety, hunger, risk of abuse, and loss of education.
“Like all children, children with disabilities have the right to be cared for and nurtured. UNICEF remains committed to support these children, without stigma and wherever they are in the country,” said Representative Nylund.
Across Syria, and in the neighbouring countries, UNICEF and partners continue to work to protect children and help them cope with the impact of conflict. This includes improving psychosocial support to help children and caregivers recover from trauma, as well as delivering lifesaving support and services for children struggling physically and psychologically.
“I’m glad I can go to school again, have fun with my friends, and learn,” said 12-year-old Azzam.
He lost his leg to the conflict and attends a UNICEF-supported school, promoting inclusive learning. He is also part of UNICEF’s integrated social protection programme which supports him and his family through regular cash assistance coupled with one-on-one support from a case manager.
The integrated programme provides vulnerable families with an opportunity to pay for the basic needs of their children with disabilities and it links the children with critical essential services.
“We have a long road to go to help more children with disabilities and other children impacted by the war so they can reach their full potential and grow up healthy and protected from harm” said Representative Nylund.
Winter has arrived in Syria
Published on Thu Feb 03 2022
An aerial view shows a camp for internally displaced Syrians covered in snow near Afrin city in the rebel-controlled northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province.
A child plays with snow at a camp for internally displaced people in the town of Raju in the rebel-controlled northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province.
Children play in the snow at a camp for internally displaced Syrians near Afrin city in the rebel-controlled northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province.
A boy peeks from a tent at a camp for internally displaced Syrians near Afrin city in the rebel-controlled northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province.
A woman removes snow on top of a tent at a camp for internally displaced people in the town of Raju in the rebel-controlled northern countryside of Syria's Aleppo province.
Dreaming and learning - the story of a powerful woman from Syria
Published on Tue Sep 14 2021
“Women must complete their education, as no one knows what the future holds. A woman’s only weapon in life is her education,”
Ayat got married young. She was just 17, which was not uncommon in her community. She described her life back then as decent, happy, and predictable. She look after her two kids and did house work, while her husband, Omar, worked at his linen shop.
“There is a huge difference between my life back then and now; very huge.”
It was in 2011, when Ayat's life took it's first turn for the worst. The conflict in Syria had begun in the months before, and slowly it ebbed its way to Ayat's neighbourhood in Douma, rural Damascus.
Frightened, Ayat and Omar grabbed their two young kids and fled for safety. But couldn't find it. Wherever they went, violence followed.
The family had no choice, but to return to their home. “We just went back to Douma. At least, there, we had a home of our own,” recalls Ayat.
But in Douma, violence kept escalating. Until one day in 2013, Ayat's life changed forever. The family were walking home, when a bomb exploded nearby. Shrapnel torn through the group, Ayat and her children were badly injured, and her husband Omar was killed.
It took Ayat one month at the hospital and a whole year at her parents’ home to fully recover.
“Suddenly, I was all on my own with two infants, one of whom had become disabled. I was overwhelmed with a huge responsibility that I felt too weak to bear."
When Ayat was well again, her family was sinking in poverty.
“I realized that I needed to go out there and find a job, at least to feed my two children.”
But in Ayat’s community, with its strict gender roles, it was unusual for a woman to go out and work with men. “I had to break the rules to survive,” said Ayat.
Ayat started working with a humanitarian organization as a psychosocial support worker. “What I learned from that job was instrumental for my interactions with my daughters, who were clearly affected by trauma.”
With her strong will for life and despite the hardship she went through, Ayat was able to dream again. She decided to continue her education which she stopped after Grade 11, when she got married.
“I needed to study hard while still working. I needed to make it to the exams.”
In 2018, Ayat sat her exams and passed with good grades. She had qualified to enroll to study Chemistry at University in Damascus. During her first year at University, she worked as a school teacher as well as studying. In her second year, it became harder to juggle the two, so she had to quit working and focus on her degree.
The financial burden was made easier when she applied for UNICEF’s cash transfer support for children with disabilities. It provides families with US$40 a month, to help take care of their disabled children’s needs.
“Often, when I come back after receiving the money, I would find my daughters waiting at the door, excited to find the food items they had asked for among my shopping bags.”
Ayat is now 28. She continues to provide for her children. She spends her mornings at University, takes care of the girls in the afternoon, and studies all night after they go to bed. Her plan is to graduate, start a job as a lab technician and be fully independent.
*“Women must complete their education, as no one knows what the future holds. A woman’s only weapon in life is her education,” *
Since 2020, more than 1,700 children with severe disabilities have been benefitting from UNICEF’s cash transfer programme in rural Damascus. Support for families in Syria is crucial to help them meet their children’s needs.
A life of conflict: Meet 10 year old Asinat
Published on Fri May 28 2021
At 10 years old, Asinat has known only war and violence in her short life. She was born at the start of the Syrian conflict, and with no end in sight, her life continues to be impacted on a daily basis.
One of Asinat's earliest memories is of fleeing her home as a toddler, as shells fell all around. Her family continued to be displaced over and over, as the violence followed them wherever they went.
"I remember running to my mother and burying my head in her lap whenever I heard the sounds of shelling,” she recalls.
Asinat has been scarred by years of war. But not having enough food has been equally traumatic for her.
“Hunger is what I will never forget.”
For over five years, Asinat and her family lived under a tight siege in east Ghouta, surviving mainly on bread.
“I remember waking up in the middle of the night crying of an empty stomach,” recalls Asinat. “My mother would have always left me a piece of bread from her share, but it was never enough,”.
As the siege raged on, the most basic food became harder to find and the cost skyrocketed - even flour became 100 times more expensive.
To help her family, Asinat would go on scavenger hunts with other children during the day. They'd collect wild greens for their mothers to cook; a desperate attempt to put anything in their bellies.
One day while still under siege, Asinat was feeling scared and hungry. So to make her feel better, her mother gave her five Syrian pounds so she could buy a chocolate bar once the siege was over.
Asinat did not even know what a chocolate bar was, she'd never seen one.
“My mom would go on and on about the taste," says Asinat, "so I held on to the money, dreaming of the day when mom’s stories about this chocolate bar become a reality!”
Asinat as other dreams too. They are very simple, and remain very distant.
“Ten years from now, I hope my home gets fixed and that we’ll be able to buy as much food as we need,” says Asinat.
“I also want to work with children and buy them biscuits, fruits and clothes.”
While the conflict in Syrian ticked passed 10 years in 2021, UNICEF has been on the ground helping children, supporting families and aiding communities to survive since the beginning of the conflict.
And we continue to ensure we reach those most in need, like Asinat and her family, every day.
By donating to UNICEF's Syria Appeal you'll be helping ensure our life saving work can continue.
Supporting malnourished Syrian children during the COVID-19 pandemic
Published on Thu Apr 16 2020
Despite movement restrictions across the Syrian Arab Republic, due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention measures, UNICEF’s health and nutrition partners continue to reach children and women with life-saving aid.
Mahmoudli camp in rural Ar-Raqqa is just one of the Syrian camps UNICEF supporters are providing aid for. Mahmoudli hosts more than 8,000 internally displaced people – many of which are children, who fled their homes due to escalating violence.
UNICEF's team visits the camp three times a week to provide nutrition services and to monitor and follow up on malnourished children. This support is critical when it comes to ensuring Syrian children survive the harsh conditions of the camp – with malnutrition still contributing to the death of millions of children around the world each year.
When malnourished, children are vulnerable to diseases, stunting and even death. This risk is now even more profound, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow. If the virus reaches the already crowded Syrian camps, it will spread at a lethal rate.
Children are the hidden victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is critical at these times that children’s access to learning, health, nutrition and protection services are not affected.
Please donate now and help UNICEF provide life-saving support to Syrian children and families.
The threat of COVID-19 for Syrian Refugees
Published on Thu Apr 02 2020
COVID-19 poses a huge risk to those living in refugee or displacement camps - where families live in cramped conditions, with little to no access to medicine, soap or clean water. With handwashing and social distancing being the best defence against COVID-19, it will be near impossible for Syrian families to avoid infection.
UNICEF is on the ground, supporting Syrian children with life-saving supplies - but the need is great. Not only do refugee children need the regular humanitarian assistance they lean on to survive - food, clean water, vaccines, medicine and safe-spaces, but now entire communities urgently need medical and hygiene supplies to curb the spread of infection.
The need for your support has never been greater. Please donate now and help rush supplies to the Syrian children that need it most.
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