Aid needed to mend shattered childhoods
 
As many UK children finish their first week back at school, UNICEF Ambassadors and Supporters – including David Beckham, Ewan McGregor, Robbie Williams and Eddie Izzard - have called on the UK public to remember the children of Syria. 
 
In a powerful open letter high profile supporters of the world’s leading children’s organisation, UNICEF, who include actors, sports stars and broadcasters, say that instead of going to school, too many Syrian children “are being forced to flee their homes in search of safety as the conflict deteriorates.”
 
The UNICEF star supporters call on the British public to help children cope with what has become the largest humanitarian operation in history “so that a generation of Syrian children are not simply lost” pointing out that the “children caught up in this conflict are innocent victims who have had the misfortune of growing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  
 
The supporters urge the public to help support the aid response to this horrific crisis, saying that: “as the UK’s children go back to school, we urge you to remember Syria’s children and do something – however small – to help mend their shattered childhoods.”  
 
Other UNICEF supporters who have signed the letter include: Chris Hoy, Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, David Walliams, Keeley Hawes, James Nesbitt, Lord David Puttnam, Trudie Styler, Charley Boorman, Simon Reeve, Dan Snow, Martin Bell and Duncan Bannatyne.  
 
UNICEF is providing children in Syria and refugee children in five neighbouring countries - Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt - with safe drinking water, essential vaccines, education, and psychological support for trauma.  But it is struggling to reach all the children that need help as it still has a 40 percent funding gap for its work for the rest of 2013. Around 1 million children are now seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, the equivalent to all the children in Wales being uprooted and left homeless.
 
As the new school year begins, the agency is helping Syrian children across the region to return to education by providing school bags, materials and furniture. In Syria – where almost one out of every five schools has been damaged, destroyed or is being used as a shelter for displaced families – the agency is launching a home based learning programme that will enable 400,000 children in conflict hotspots continue to learn.  
 
In recent weeks, an average of 2,500 children have been crossing Syria’s borders every day, according to UNICEF. It says that there has been more than a tenfold increase in the number of Syrian child refugees from 70,000 to 1 million in less than one year. 
 
The UK public can donate £5 to UNICEF UK’s Syria appeal by texting the word DONATE to 70099.  £5 can provide a family with water for a week. To donate online visit www.unicef.org.uk


--ENDS-- 

Notes for editors:

For more information and images contact:

Rose Foley, UNICEF UK: + 44 (0)20 7375 6077 / M: + 44 (0)7964 296 431/ rosef@unicef.org.uk

 
Full text of the open letter from UNICEF ambassadors and high profile supporters: 
 
“Like so many children around the world, those in Syria should be looking forward to the new school term. Instead too many are being forced to flee their homes in search of safety as the conflict deteriorates. More than 4 million children are now in need of aid in what has become the largest humanitarian operation in history, with 1 million children now seeking refuge in neighbouring countries - the equivalent to all the children in Wales being uprooted and left homeless.
 
“Despite the political attention on Syria, the humanitarian response to this crisis and the children caught up in it is at risk of being forgotten.  In Syria itself, almost one out of every five schools has been damaged, destroyed or is being used as a shelter for displaced families. Across the region, children are living in make-shift shelters and camps, where they are at increased risk of disease. 
 
“UNICEF - the world’s leading children’s organisation - is working day and night for the children of Syria to ensure they can be protected from harm and disease and can continue to learn.  UNICEF is providing children in Syria and refugee children in five neighbouring countries - Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt - with safe drinking water, essential vaccines, education, and psychological support for trauma.  But it is struggling to reach all the children that need help.
 
“This is not their conflict, yet children bear the brunt of the suffering. We are calling on you to help, so that a generation of Syrian children are not simply 'lost'. You can donate to ensure that they receive vaccines to keep disease at bay, continue learning and receive the psychological support they need to help them come to terms with the horrors they have witnessed.
 
“The children caught up in this conflict are innocent victims who have had the misfortune of growing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We can help provide them with some sense of hope in the most impossible of circumstances.  As the UK’s children go back to school, we urge you to remember Syria’s children and do something – however small – to help mend their shattered childhoods.”
 
About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 190 countries to help every child realise their full potential. We work with partners to transform the lives of children everywhere. UNICEF provides health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are our priority. As champion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we work to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk