Update on situation in northeast Syria

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

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With just eight weeks left to go in the year, UNICEF’s emergency operations in Syria are just over half – 53 per cent – funded. Of the $295 million required in 2019, we have received just $138 million.

Despite the massive security, access and capacity challenges we face, this funding shortfall now represents the most serious obstacle to reaching children who need help urgently.

In northeast Syria – home to some of the most vulnerable children in the country, UNICEF’s work in 2019 has included vaccinating over half a million children, providing nearly 150,000 children with psychosocial support, and enabling over 100,000 children to enroll in formal education.

Without additional funding, implications for UNICEF’s response in the northeast include:

  • Not giving over 1,700 children the specialized care they need after they lived through extremely brutal experiences – this includes children who were either associated with, or lived in areas controlled by armed groups.
  • Not reaching 170,000 people at risk with mine risk education. One in 2 Syrians is at risk of unexploded ordnance, children especially, and in this part of the country in particular.
  • Not providing emergency water, sanitation and hygiene support to over 100,000 people, nor improving poor water supplies to 300,000 more.
  • Not providing 55,000 children with routine immunization, and nearly 140,000 women and children with health and nutrition consultation.
  • Not reaching 70,000 children non-formal education support, including learning spaces and supplies.

Across the country, 5.5 million children require assistance.

With temperatures dropping quickly, UNICEF’s aim is to provide 578,000 children between the ages of 0 – 14 in camps, collective shelters, host communities and areas of acute need, with crucial winter clothing. At this point, we have funds for 356,000 children – without additional funding, 222,000 children will go without.

We face many obstacles in delivering lifesaving support. Funding should not be one of them. We appeal to donors’ generosity.


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, media@unicef.org.uk


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Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting 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.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

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