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Updates from the Ground in Syria

Imagine seeing a friend killed or your home destroyed.

Imagine fleeing your own neighborhood and arriving in a country you’ve never been to.

Imagine living in a stranger’s house, sharing one room with 20 others, or sitting in a dark cave with 50 students and a teacher you have never met before.

This is life for many of the children living through the conflict in Syria. They have no school. They have little water. They are hungry, and they are cold. More than two million Syrian children are in need of humanitarian assistance.

A girl carries jerrycans of water in Aleppo, Syria.

A girl, carrying jerrycans of water, walks past a pile of debris on a street in Aleppo, Syria. The city, which has been a site of prolonged fighting during the conflict, is experiencing frequent interruptions in its water supply. ©UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1293/Alessio Romenzi

Earlier today, UNICEF USA hosted a Google+ Hangout with three UNICEF staff members who have been on the ground in Syria: Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programs for UNICEF; Simon Ingram, head of UNICEF communications in the Middle East and North Africa, participating from Jordan; and Bastien Vigneau, Senior Emergency Officer for UNICEF’s Middle East and Northern Africa Regional Office, participating from Syria. The Hangout was moderated by UNICEF USA’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Lisa Benenson. The three men vividly described what they’ve seen in Syria, and what more needs to be done.

Since the crisis began 22 months ago, UNICEF has been active in Syria and surrounding countries, providing emergency relief to a growing group that now numbers some 4 million people. The focus has been meeting children’s most urgent needs—bringing clean water to 10 million people, vaccinating 1.5 million children against measles and polio, setting up schools and child-friendly spaces.

The influx of refugees in neighboring countries is staggering: 5,000 people a day are crossing borders, 75% of them are women and children. Many end up in poor communities that need support to host these refugees.

Now imagine what would happen if UNICEF could no longer do its work. UNICEF has appealed for $220 million to help Syria’s children, but only 20% of this amount has been received. Without further funding, UNICEF may not be able to carry out its second immunization campaign. Water and sanitation systems will be difficult to maintain. More children will die from waterborne diseases. Providing shelter, water, toilets, and schools to the growing stream of refugees will be impossible.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria is truly massive. But the children and families of Syria are resilient. As Bastien Vigneau describes it, “Come what may, they will rebuild their country. We help children envision the kind of country they see in their future.” The people of Syria are doing everything they can to survive. It is up to us to help them do those things they can’t.

To watch the entire Google+ Hangout, visit our YouTube channel.

To support UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts for children affected by the crisis in Syria, visit our Syria donation page.

4 Comments

  1. m.p.s
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you for letting people know the terrible toll of this conflict on children. Thank goodness for UNICEF and the other organizations that are working to alleviate their suffering.

  2. Lorraine
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I think UNICEF is wonderful. Sadly, I can make no monetary contribution. I am wondering if there is any work in the US for the children and parents who need to know about the health consequences of the store bought processed food they eat and all of the different GMO, pesticides and herbicides in the foods , toxic medicines they may be given, leading to an unhealthy adulthood. What type of foods and water are distributed to children and mothers overseas? Are they also toxic? Yes, it is a great cause, but I would like to know what, for now, is being done in the US. Please help me to understand more.

    • UNICEF USA
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your comment and concern. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s activities in the United States involve education, advocacy and fundraising, rather than programing for children. But in the countries and territories around the world in which UNICEF provides water and nutrition related-programing, the organization does its utmost to ensure that all of our supplies are of the highest ethical and qualitative standards.

  3. I think UNICEF is the best organisation in helping.I would like to come and help.
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    UNICEF is the best organisation in helping.I would like to come and help children.Elizabeta Jačov

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