11 February 2014 – At least 500 children were among civilians evacuated from the besieged old city of Homs over the past few days during the ongoing humanitarian operation being undertaken by the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
UNICEF colleagues on the ground reported that the children who came out looked terrified, frail and emaciated.
Mothers were anxious, and many were crying. All they wanted was for their children to reach safety.
Staff reported the presence of about 20 pregnant women among the evacuees.
Under the humanitarian pause, UN and SARC vehicles have so far brought 1,151 civilians out of the Old City and transferred them to shelters or into the care of relatives elsewhere in Homs.
UNICEF staff accompanied children identified as vulnerable until they reached safety to ensure they were not separated from their families or otherwise placed at risk.
Despite coming under attack, the humanitarian convoy managed to deliver some much needed supplies including food, hygiene kits and water purification tablets.
UNICEF staff provided children arriving at the reception centre outside the old city with nutrition supplements.
A total of 190 children received on-the-spot vaccination against polio, DPT, Hepatitis B, measles and other preventable diseases.
Before the humanitarian operation began, UNICEF estimated there were more than 1,000 children trapped in Homs.
UNICEF remains extremely concerned over the fate of the many children who are still trapped in Homs and in other besieged communities all over Syria.
Parties to the conflict must protect children, respect humanitarian pauses and abide by international humanitarian law principles to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who desperately need it.
For further information and interview requests, please contact:
Kumar Tiku, UNICEF Syria, firstname.lastname@example.org Mob: +963 934202330
Razan Rashidi, UNICEF Syria, email@example.com, Mob: +963 93 354 9020
Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +962 79 867 4628