Nearly 11 years on, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis globally. Nearly 5.7 million registered refugees, including almost 2.7 million children, live in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. COVID-19 continues to impact families’ livelihoods, health and access to services, further compounding their vulnerability. Nearly 20.6 million people, including almost 5.8 million children, need urgent assistance.
UNICEF will continue to reach refugee children living in camps, informal settlements and urban settings—as well as vulnerable children from host communities—with essential education, WASH, child protection, health, nutrition and social protection services and adolescent and youth programmes.
In 2022, UNICEF requires US$910 million to respond to the most immediate needs of Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities, while helping to mitigate the ongoing negative effects of COVID-19.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis in the world, with no end in sight. After more than 10 years of conflict, nearly 5.7 million registered refugees—including almost 2.7 million children—still live in camps, informal settlements and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Of the 20.6 million people in need, 3.2 million people require WASH assistance, 2.2 million children require child protection services and 4.1 million children require education support.9 Although host governments continue to generously provide essential services for vulnerable refugees and affected host communities, public resources and infrastructure are increasingly stretched thin. Since 2020, COVID-19 and ensuing mitigation measures have had a devastating impact on families’ livelihoods, health and access to services, further compounding their vulnerability and well-being. While Syrian and host community families experience similar hardships, Syrians face additional challenges in meeting their basic needs due to their legal status. The result has been widening inequalities, weakened social cohesion and increased health and protection risks.
In Turkey, home to 3.6 million Syrians, over 400,000 refugee children still lack access to education.10 In Lebanon, economic collapse has led to runaway inflation and nearly the entire Syrian refugee population cannot afford the survival minimal expenditure basket.11 In Egypt and Iraq, already weak public health systems have been battered by the impact of COVID-19, further limiting Syrians’ access to essential care. Jordan is the largest refugee hosting country relative to its population, with 89 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants. Jordan hosts over 1.3 million Syrians, including 670,637 registered refugees, of which 129,822 are living in camps, and remaining refugees have settled in urban and rural communities. Meanwhile across the region, climate change and prolonged water scarcity are posing severe threats to children’s development and fragmenting social cohesion.
Within this context, major challenges remain in realizing children’s rights. Refugee children— particularly girls and those out of school—are highly vulnerable to numerous protection risks, including psychosocial distress, exploitation and gender-based violence. COVID-19 has also disrupted or reduced access to routine immunization and formal education, while increased food insecurity and child poverty is resulting in an overall decline in children's well-being.12 As vulnerable families struggle to survive, they are increasingly resorting to negative coping mechanisms such as child labour and early marriage. Children and youth with disabilities are also acutely marginalized as access to services remain out of reach.