Since the onset of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, more than 5.3 million people, including 2.5 million children,5 have been living as registered refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.6 More than 90 per cent of these refugees are living in host communities and facing challenging socio-economic conditions, including high poverty rates,7 high costs of living, limited livelihood opportunities and the exhaustion of savings. These circumstances have led to negative coping practices—such as removing children from school, particularly girls, to work or marry—further exacerbating existing protection risks. Nearly 10,000 Syrian refugee children are either unaccompanied or separated,8 and many of these children are vulnerable to exploitation, including child labour, due to lack of legal documentation. Broader political and social pressures are impacting the stability of refugee/host community relations, which are strained by slow economic recovery in several countries,9 high unemployment rates,10 competition over lower-skilled jobs, and increasing humanitarian needs. These factors are leading to the depletion of already limited natural resources and government-provided financial resources, which has further challenged the provision of basic public services to both refugee and host populations. In 2017, more than 4.4 million people were in need of safe water in Iraq and Lebanon.11 The limited capacities of education systems across the region have left an estimated 731,000 Syrian refugee children out of school12—a 6 per cent increase over 2016. In 2018, more than 5 million Syrian refugee children will require education assistance,13 3.8 million will require protection support14 and 7.5 million will be in need of health assistance.15
The 2018-2019 inter-agency Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan16 addresses the need to further integrate humanitarian assistance with resilience and development to meet protection and basic needs, while enhancing national capacities. The UNICEF response17 covers both years, with planned actions based on previous years’ results to achieve scale-up for the most vulnerable refugees and host communities, and enhance operational efficiencies through improved programming, partnerships, engagement with non-traditional donors and delivery of a more sustainable response. Under the No Lost Generation initiative, UNICEF will continue to enhance the quality of and access to integrated child protection (CP), education, youth engagement and livelihood programmes for Syrian refugee and vulnerable host community children and youth. This will be achieved by improving access to safe, equitable and quality education and learning, including life-skills and citizenship education, while strengthening public education systems by enhancing education governance, accountability, teacher development and data collection. Special focus will be on providing accredited non-formal education for hard-to-reach children and youth, while continuing to reach children and youth with formal education. The child protection response will focus on preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence, child labour, child marriage and non-refoulment,18 and ensuring unhindered access to psychosocial support (PSS) and specialized protection services. In addition, data collection on grave child rights violations at the country level will be strengthened through the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, as will evidence generation for advocacy purposes. To address social cohesion and create sustainable livelihood opportunities, the employability of refugee and vulnerable host community youth will be enhanced through the delivery of tailored training, the creation of entrepreneurial income-generating opportunities and the strengthening of community-based programmes, such as community dialogue, conflict management training and community policing. In line with the Grand Bargain commitments, vulnerable refugee and host community members will continue to receive cash assistance, including winter assistance, complemented by the targeted provision of non-food items to help meet basic household needs. In WASH, the transition to cost-effective and sustainable water, sanitation and waste management solutions will be pursued in camps and settlements, and service coverage will be upgraded, expanded and made more efficient in host communities, including in schools. Support for preventive and curative nutrition and health services, particularly for children under 5 years and pregnant and lactating women, will continue, as will vaccination against preventable diseases such as polio and measles to avoid outbreaks. This will be accompanied by targeted community outreach and messaging.
Results from 2017
As of 15 November 2017, UNICEF had US$719,562,997 available against the US$1,041,550,413 appeal (70 per cent funded).19 In 2017, UNICEF continued to support the efforts of governments and partners to deliver essential services in refugee camps and host communities. In Jordan, UNICEF continued to use a vulnerability approach to identify children in need of support, including by analysing the situation of vulnerable Jordanian children and children of various nationalities, in collaboration with the Government and civil society organizations, and with donor support. Scaled up outreach campaigns helped some 997,000 children across the region enrol in formal education, and supported 58,000 children to enrol in non-formal education in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan (62 per cent of registered school-aged children). UNICEF supported national protection systems and reached some 285,000 children with psychosocial support. To keep the region polio free, UNICEF and partners vaccinated more than 6 million children under 5 in Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. WASH services focused on the delivery of adequate and sustainable supply of safe water in refugee camps and host communities. For Syrians living in host communities, UNICEF provided support in the most vulnerable areas, despite challenges related to the cost and reliability of services. In Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, some 827,000 people benefitted from access to improved safe water delivery systems and more than 442,400 benefitted from temporary water provision, including through trucking. UNICEF sustained cash programmes that benefitted some 19,000 families and children in Jordan and Iraq and one-off cash grants/vouchers were distributed to almost 214,000 people in Turkey and Lebanon and some 8,000 households in Egypt.
In line with the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2018–2019, UNICEF is requesting US$951,797,002 for 2018 and US$894,283,156 for 2019 to meet the humanitarian and resilience needs of Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children in the region. In addition to country level requirements, the regional funding requirement is included to provide technical and quality assurance support to the response in the five refugee-hosting countries. In line with the Grand Bargain, UNICEF is advocating for flexible and long-term funding, which is crucial to implementing a systems approach and prioritizing allocations to the most vulnerable children. This Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for Syrian refugees and other affected populations is complementary to the separate appeals for the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq.