Children are bearing the brunt of the 11-year-old conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. Over 13.4 million people (6.1 million children) require assistance and 7 million people are internally displaced (3.1 million children). Humanitarian needs have increased by more than one quarter since 2020, driven by an economic crisis, continuing violence in the northwest and other parts of Syria Arab Republic, hostilities, mass displacement, devastated public services and COVID-19.
In 2022, UNICEF will deliver life-saving services to children and families, including through a multi-sector resilience-building approach with its partners and field offices. UNICEF will address the needs of girls, boys, adolescents, women and men, prioritizing high severity areas and responding to COVID-19 and systematizing accountability to affected populations and the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation.
UNICEF requires US$334.4 million to reach children in the Syrian Arab Republic with humanitarian assistance in 2022. The greatest funding requirements are for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and education, among others.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Children are bearing the brunt of the 11-year-old conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. The scale of children in need of humanitarian assistance is on the rise, increasing 27 per cent from 2020 to 2021, with 6.1 million children now affected.8 Overall, 13.4 million people require humanitarian assistance, up from 11 million in 2020. This includes 3 million people with disabilities and 7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). This escalation is being driven by a severe economic crisis, which is only worsening the impact of intensified regional hostilities, mass displacement, a widely devastated public service infrastructure and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ninety per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, with the Syrian Pound losing 78 per cent of its value and food prices increasing by 236 per cent in 2020.9 Only one third of schools10 and half of health centres11 are fully functional and 36 per cent of the population relies on alternative water sources12 (92 per cent had access to basic water services precrisis13). There are 90,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition14 and 4.5 million children out of school with 1.6 million at risk of dropping out; children with disabilities are particularly likely to be out of school.
Protection concerns remain paramount. In 2020, 2,140 grave violations against children were recorded, including recruitment, deaths and injuries.16 One third of communities are contaminated with explosive ordnance.17 The economic crisis is also worsening negative coping mechanisms and contributing to the normalization of gender-based violence, which predominantly affects women and girls.18 Sixty-two per cent of communities surveyed reported child marriage (often affecting girls) and 67 per cent that children are forced to work rather than study (often affecting boys).19 Conflict has intensified in the northwest, which hosts 2.8 million IDPs.20 The period of June to August 2021 saw the greatest escalation of hostilities in over a year.21 Humanitarian needs in the northwest are among the worst in the country, with 2.2 million out of 4.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 1 million out of 1.7 million school-age children out of school.22 In the northeast, complex political and conflict dynamics combined with drought conditions have endangered access to water for 4.5 million people,23 while at least 25,000 children associated with armed groups continue to languish in camps and detention centres and require support to facilitate their safe reintegration or repatriation. Among those affected are IDPs in the camps of Al-Hol (58,000 people, 65 per cent children) and Al-Roj (2,620 people, 67 per cent children),24 who are fully dependent on aid. This includes 7,468 third-country national children, whom UNICEF is working to help return to their homes. The UN Security Council Resolution 2585 authorizing UN cross-border assistance into Syria will be up for renewal in January and July 2022 and remains the only viable modality for reaching vulnerable people in the northwest. UNICEF and partners continue to work to expand muchneeded complementary cross-line activities.