GENEVA/AMMAN, 1 February 2013 – A United Nations joint mission to the western Syrian governorate of Homs has found that 420,000 people, half of whom are children, need immediate humanitarian assistance.
The month-long mission found that about 700,000 people across the governorate were severely affected by the current conflict, including some 635,000 displaced from their homes, as well as returnees and host families.
“Children are the worst affected,” said UNICEF Emergency Specialist Mark Choonoo who was on the mission. “They are showing clear signs of distress. It is extremely important that we reach as many of these children as possible with the support they need to cope with their traumatic experiences.”
Out of 1,500 schools in Homs an estimated 200 have been damaged as a result of the fighting – and another 65 are sheltering children and families. This has direct implications on students’ attendance and on the quality of education. UNICEF assistance in the governorate of Homs to date includes the distribution of blankets, quilts, family hygiene kits and children’s clothes and the provision of remedial education.
The surrounding areas are also under duress. On the last day of the mission, UNICEF visited Talbiseh, a town 30 kilometres north of Homs which has experienced heavy fighting in the past year. In Talbiseh alone, UNICEF has provided 1,000 quilts, 1,000 hygiene kits and 2,000 clothing kits for children. Key additional priorities include providing children with psychological support programmes, increased learning opportunities and rehabilitating the water network.
UNICEF recently appealed for $68.5 million to carry out life-saving programmes inside Syria during the first six months of 2013. Only a fraction of the funds – a little over $8 million – has been received so far.
UNICEF works in more than 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: http://www.unicef.org
For further information, please contact:
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, email@example.com
Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org