UNICEF Joins UN Launch of 2015 Syria Crisis Response Plans

Statement by Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the Launch of the 2015 Strategic Response Plan for Syria (SRP) and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2015-16

Amman, December 18, 2014: “The Syria crisis represents the biggest threat to children of recent times. By the end of 2015, the lives of over 8.6 million children across the region will have been torn apart by violence and forced displacement. That compares to a figure of 7 million just one month ago.

Since the outset, and in spite of the enormous security and other challenges posed by a conflict of such scale and brutality, UNICEF and its partners have been delivering clean water, sanitation, education, health and immunization services, and psychosocial care to millions of children and their families.

This year, as part of the 2015 Syria appeal, UNICEF is renewing its commitment to the survival and protection of children, including those living under the harshest conditions of siege. At the same time, we are redoubling our efforts on behalf of poor communities in neighbouring countries where refugees have settled, so that they can continue to share their vital services and schools with refugee children and their families living in their midst.

In 2015, drawing on the experience we have gained on the ground and working alongside our local and international partners, UNICEF will:

  • Double the number of children accessing safe water and sanitation. This will be done mainly by strengthening durable water networks and infrastructure. In Syria alone, we will continue to meet the ongoing needs of more than 16 m people. 
  • Double the number of children with access to learning especially in Syria and Jordan,while expanding the provision of learning materials for children living in areas of Syria made hard-to-reach by violence. 
  • Maintain ongoing vaccination campaigns with the aim of preventing any further polio cases, while also doubling the number of children in Syria benefiting from primary health care consultations. 
  • Deliver care and support to 850,000 children directly affected by the conflict, while expanding cash grants and provision of winter clothing to the families of the most vulnerable children. 
  • Reinforce the efforts of local authorities to provide education, health, water/ sanitation and protection services for Syrian refugee and host community children. 

These commitments – costed at $ 903 million — represent the bare minimum the children affected by this conflict can expect of UNICEF and of the international community as a whole.  We call on our supporters around the world to help us make these commitments a reality.”

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Photos and video related to the Syria crisis can be downloaded from https://www.dropbox.com/sh/273h9n5hsfqy2zy/AADuUI2OZdIJiZy5JtmgmSSTa?dl=0

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in 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: www.unicef.org

For more information please contact:

In November, UNICEF provides more than 75,000 children with supplies in conflict-affected towns in Syria

 Damascus, 10 December 2014 – In November, UNICEF, with the assistance of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, took a big step forward in reaching children in hard to reach areas by providing lifesaving supplies and education kits to an estimated 75,400 children.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) kits and life-saving supplies such as winter clothes, blankets, hygiene kits, plastic sheets and plumpy dose were delivered across the lines of conflict to approximately 48,500 families in Homs, Idleb, Aleppo, and Rural Damascus.

Volunteer teams from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed supplies in Al Waer in Homs, Kafr Hamra in Aleppo, Maaret Elartiq, Anadan, Riffat and Azaz in Aleppo, and Daraya, Douma and Qudsaya and Buqien in Rural Damascus. Until recently, these areas were almost impossible to reach. Another cross line mission in November enabled UNICEF to provide immunization services to 410 children in Qah and Atmeh camps in Idleb governorate. Many of these children had missed out on previous vaccination rounds.

“These cross line humanitarian convoys represent our continuous efforts to reach the most vulnerable children in the most difficult to access areas because of the ongoing conflict,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative to Syria. “The needs continue to be challenging and we all need to double our efforts to reach the thousands of children who remains in desperate need”

In 2014, UNICEF carried out 45 humanitarian convoys, delivering life-saving supplies across the lines of conflict into hard to reach areas. More than 4.8 million people are estimated to be living in inaccessible areas, almost half of them are children. UNICEF continues to call on all parties to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all people in need, including medical supplies.

Millions of vulnerable Syrian refugee children are at risk of going to bed hungry

Food cuts increase health risks and threaten wellbeing through winter months

AMMAN, 4 December 2014 – UNICEF joins the appeal for urgent support to the World Food Programme (WFP) after the UN agency was forced to cut food assistance for 1.7 million vulnerable Syrians across the region.

This cut will contribute to the growing sense of desperation particularly among children, nursing mothers, persons with disabilities and the elderly.

Families risk being driven towards destitution and many children might be forced into the workplace to increase family income for the purchase of basic food items. This in turn could lead to more school dropout.

“Syrian children and their families are paying a heavy price as a result of the ongoing crisis,” says Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.  “As winter approaches, the lack of funds for food will have a devastating impact on them.”

If funding is provided, WFP could resume assistance for Syrian children through a voucher system that enables families to buy food in the local markets.

UNICEF urgently calls on the donor countries to further support the critical needs of Syrian children and their families and avert a looming disaster.

For more information about current needs and UNICEF’s Regional Winter Response, please visit:  http://childrenofsyria.info/winter/

ECHO provides additional €4 million to keep Syrian children healthy

AMMAN, Jordan, 25 November 2014 – The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) has contributed an additional €4 million (approximately $5 million USD) to UNICEF’s emergency response supporting children affected by the on-going conflict inside Syria, and in neighboring Jordan.

ECHO has provided $51.8 million USD to UNICEF’s response to the Syria crisis since 2012. Syria has received $23 million USD and Jordan has received $20.8 million USD.

The new funds will provide essential health and water and sanitation services for internally displaced people within Syria and water and sanitation services for children and their families in neighbouring Jordan.

“We are grateful to ECHO, who has been working hand-in-hand with UNICEF since the beginning of the Syria crisis,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This timely contribution will provide clean water to millions of displaced and refugee Syrian children, as well as basic health care services that vulnerable children need. It is this sustained support that has mitigated the spread of waterborne diseases and epidemics across the sub-region.”

Throughout 2014, the ECHO-UNICEF partnership has provided approximately 2.5 million children under the age of five inside Syria with polio vaccinations, four million people with access to water and hygiene supplies and 700,000 with access to improved health services.

Funds provided by ECHO are saving people’s lives, like Rihab and her family who were forced to flee their home in Aleppo last winter and now live in an unfinished building in another part of the city. Despite the danger, local health volunteers have managed to vaccinate every child in their area.

In Jordan, 145,000 people in camps and host communities have access to safe and sufficient amounts of water for drinking and domestic use, and 4,200 vulnerable children, including children who are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families have received child protection services and psycho-social support.

“Nearly 6.5 million children have been affected by the war in Syria”, said David Verboom, Head of ECHO’s regional office in Amman. “They are the most vulnerable, yet many youngsters are being denied access to the most basic things that we take for granted, like clean water and health services. Through our important partnership with UNICEF, we are supporting life-saving projects to alleviate their suffering. It is especially important to provide help now as winter will be a real struggle for families.”

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About the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
The European Commission funds relief operations for victims of natural disasters and conflicts around the world. The Commission’s assistance relies on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The European Commission is among UNICEF’s largest humanitarian donors. In 2013 alone, it provided almost €100 million for UNICEF projects to help children.

For more information visit: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF and WHO launch second round of National Polio Immunisation campaign from 15 to 21 November 2014

الخبر باللغة العربية

Beirut, 15 November 2014 – The Ministry of Public Health launches today the next round of Lebanon’s polio immunisation campaign, lasting for seven days until the 21st.

This round comes on the heels of the previous vaccination round held in October and in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of the regional response to the Polio outbreak in the Middle East. Continue reading

Children’s winter needs are greater than ever in Middle East but limited access and funds hamper UNICEF response

PRESS RELEASE

Over seven million Syrian and Iraqi children caught up in conflict face a harsh winter. UNICEF and partners are distributing winter clothing to one million of the most vulnerable.

AMMAN/GENEVA, 14 November 2014 –As seasonal cold winds, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures close in on conflict-torn parts of the Middle East, UNICEF and partners have begun the distribution of warm clothes and other winter items to ensure that one million of the most vulnerable children are kept warm and healthy.

“After all that they’ve suffered on account of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the onset of winter and the growing number of families being displaced means that many children across the region desperately need protection,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “However, due to critical issues of access and funding gaps, many children will sadly not be reached.”

In Syria, UNICEF is working to assist 400,000 internally displaced children. But due to a funding shortage, only 217,600 winter kits have been purchased for distribution in four priority areas of Homs, Tartous, Aleppo, and Qamishly. Access to many areas remains limited or impossible due to ongoing fighting.

Equally challenging is the situation in Iraq, where UNICEF is distributing 223,000 winter kits in Kurdish areas hosting some 500,000 children displaced by fighting over recent months. Currently, plans are underway on how best to address the influx of newly arrived Syrian children seeking shelter in camps, school building and rural hamlets. With the current funding shortage, more than 200,000 children are expected to go without warm clothes this winter.

“The humanitarian needs are unprecedented and the conflicts in the region are complex,” said Paul Molinaro, UNCEF Regional Chief of Supply. “To address these challenges, we have undertaken a number of measures, including local procurement of many winter supplies to ensure children get the supplies they need in time.”

In Lebanon, UNICEF winter kits will reach over 100,000 children and nearly 75,000 children will receive vouchers to purchase clothes in local markets. To keep learning and recreation spaces warm, UNICEF will deliver plastic sheeting and insulation layers for improved protection of temporary tented schools and Child Friendly Spaces.

In Jordan, UNICEF will provide winter kits to 72,000 children. An additional 54,500 children will receive vouchers. In Turkey, UNICEF response will reach 100,000 children. This is the first winter away from home for child refugees coming from Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) area.

Together, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are affecting the lives of over 7 million children. That compares to 5.6 million children one year ago.

For more information about current needs and UNICEF’s Regional Winter Response, please visit:  http://childrenofsyria.info/winter/

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For more information, please contact:

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, singram@unicef.org, +962 79 590 4740

Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, rkhadivi@unicef.org, +962 79 565 1574

Japan provides $500,000 to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Northern Bekaa, Lebanon.

Safe water and adequate sanitation to be provided with funds

Beirut, 5 Nov. 2014 – The Government of Japan has contributed $500,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) emergency response to the Syrian refugee children and women and Lebanese, most marginalized communities.

“Water and Sanitation is one of our top priorities to assist Lebanon. Access to clean drinking water and sanitation is crucial for the safety and health of the people, particularly for children and women.” stated H.E. Mr. Seiichi Otsuka, the Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon. “UNICEF and its partner organizations have worked hard to improve clean water and sanitation facilities, but still more supports are needed. Japan continues to assist the provision of necessary facilities for the vulnerable,”

During the duration of the project, thousands of women and children under-5 in the most vulnerable municipalities in Lebanon’s North Bekaa valley will benefit from improved access to safe water, rehabilitation of water systems and basic water and sanitation emergency supplies.

“With the approach of the winter season and the continued influx of refugees into Lebanon it is urgent that we meet their basic needs as quickly as possible”, said Ms. Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. “We are very grateful to the people of Japan. Their generous donation will help us ensure that the most vulnerable children are spared from waterborne diseases and are provided with the essential water and sanitation services that will guarantee them a chance to grow up in good health.”

Through the provision of safe water, construction of latrines, provision of household filters to vulnerable refugee and host families and intensive hygiene promotion sessions the likelihood of water-related diseases will be mitigated amongst the refugee and host communities.

UNICEF in coordination with the Ministry of Energy and Water, local water authorities and municipalities most affected by the Syrian crisis will select priority WASH projects for immediate delivery to reduce the strain on local communities.

According to UNHCR, Lebanon is currently the country with the world’s highest concentration of refugees compared to its total population, hosting more than 1.1 million registered refugees, with more than half of which are children under 18. This large influx of refugees has put an immense strain on Lebanon’s water and sanitation infrastructure, which was already stressed prior to the Syria crisis.

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF:

Soha Boustani, Chief of Communications, tel: +961 3 236 167, email: sboustani@unicef.org

Salam Abdulmunem, Communications Specialist, tel: +961 7 996 605, email: sabdulmunem@unicef.org

Embassy of Japan:

Political Section, tel: +961 1 989 751 (ext. 202)

Economic/Economic Cooperation Section, tel: +961 1 989 751 (ext.203)

Polio immunization drive targets 25 million children across the Middle East

باللغة العربية

Amman, 24 October 2014 – As the world marks World Polio Day, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners across the Middle East are bolstering efforts to contain a polio outbreak triggered by the conflict in Syria and Iraq last year.

In the coming weeks, 25 million children under the age of five, across seven countries, (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq) will be vaccinated against polio, amid rising hopes the outbreak in the region has been contained.

The current synchronised vaccination rounds are part of a crucial multi-country effort to eliminate polio in the Middle East, after 36 cases were confirmed in Syria in October 2013, and two further cases were confirmed in Iraq in April 2014.

“Tremendous progress has been achieved since polio made its way back into Syria last year. Through the huge effort of our partners to reach children in hard- to-access areas, in challenging conditions, there have been no new cases of polio reported in Syria or Iraq since April,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This effort must be sustained and we must remain vigilant so that all children can grow and thrive without the fear of polio.”

Ongoing activities include:

  • In Syria: 2.9  million children targeted for immunization in October
  • In Iraq:  5.8 million children targeted to be vaccinated in October
  • In Lebanon: 550,000 children to be immunized in in October and November
  • In Jordan: 1.1 million targeted to be vaccinated in October
  • In Egypt: 15 million children targeted for immunization in October
  • In Turkey: 300,000 children targeted to be vaccinated in October

In Syria and Iraq, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners are making a special effort to reach children who have been displaced by the ongoing violence, and who may have missed out on previous vaccination campaigns because of heavy fighting.  An estimated 200,000 children will not be reached through the polio campaign in Syria because they live in hard-to-reach areas affected by to the ongoing conflict.

“While polio has been reduced by over 99 per cent since the global eradication effort started, the risk of further international spread across the region remains high, so we appeal to parents to give their full support to these campaigns, which will run through early 2015,” said Chris Maher, Manager of Polio Eradication and Emergency Response, WHO. “Closing the Middle East polio outbreak is a critical step toward improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.”

GPEI is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Islamic Development Bank and a range of public and private sector donors. Since 1988, GPEI has reduced polio worldwide by over 99 percent.

Canada Ambassador Childs-Adams and UNICEF Representative Laurini visit Canadian-funded projects in Bourj Hammoud

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الخبر باللغة العربية

Beirut, 21 October 2014 - Canadian Ambassador Hilary Childs-Adams and UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, Annamaria Laurini, visited this past Friday the “Mouvement Social” center in Bourj Hammoud as part of the projects supported by the Canadian Government to Lebanon in response to the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.

The high-level delegation included Ms. Leslie Norton, Director General for International Humanitarian Assistance, and Mr. Dave Metcalfe, Director General for Development (Middle East and Europe) at Department of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development. Continue reading

The Ministry of Public Health launches National Polio Immunization Campaign to prevent Polio resurgence in Lebanon

الخبر باللغة العربية

October 14th, 2014 – The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO launched the National Polio Immunization Campaign at a press conference held today at the Lebanese Order of Physicians. The event was headed by the Minister of Public Health Wael Abou Faour and was attended by the Ministers of Interior, Education, Information, the Lebanese Order of Physicians, the National Certification Committee (NCC) and the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Committee along with members of the press. Further attendees included the Rotary as well as a number of NGO partner representatives who have been supporting the initiatives in the months leading to this campaign. Continue reading

EU Ambassador Eichhorst and UNICEF Representative Laurini visit EU-funded activities in southern Lebanon

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الخبر باللغة العربية

Beirut, 9 October 2014 – Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, and UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, Annamaria Laurini, visited two EU-funded activities in Sarafand and Marj Al-Khokh in southern Lebanon that form part of the support provided by the European Union to Lebanon in response to the consequences of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.

The European Union is one of UNICEF’s largest donors in Lebanon for the period 2013-14; generously contributing €32.66 million to strengthen education and childcare services for the most vulnerable families in Lebanon, including refugees.

Continue reading

UNICEF welcomes the release of 70 Kurdish children after 120 day of captivity

بالعربية

Statement attributable to Hanaa Singer, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE IN Syria 

GENEVA/ DAMASCUS, 3 October 2014- “UNICEF welcomes the release of 70 Kurdish children after 120 day of captivity. These children were kidnapped on 29 May 2014 while traveling from their home-town of Ai’n Al Arab in the northern Syrian governorate of Aleppo to take their final school examinations.

“The physical and psychological well-being of these children is currently being assessed. We remain deeply concerned about the safety of children and teachers who are still in captivity.

“The abduction, recruitment and use of children in hostilities are grave child rights violations.

“In this time of conflict, it is the obligation of all Parties to ensure that Syrian children be kept out of harm’s way and granted unhindered and safe access to education.”

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For more information:

Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, +41-799-639-244, cboulierac@unicef.org
Kumar Tiku, UNICEF Syria, +963 934202330, ktiku@unicef.org
Razan Rashidi, UNICEF Syria, +963 93 354 9020, rrashidi@unicef.org
Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, +962-79-867-4628, jtouma@unicef.org