UNICEF is on the ground in Syria, helping to ensure children are healthy, educated and safe from harm.
In what has become known as one of the deadliest conflicts of our time, a generation of children have known nothing but war. Since the beginning of the Syrian War in 2011, most of the basic systems and services children depend on – health, nutrition, education, social protection and water and sanitation – have been cut to the bone.
This, combined with the economic crisis, continued violence, mass displacement, and a global pandemic means that 90 per cent of Syrians now live below the poverty line. The culmination of these factors has led to an increase in acute malnutrition, children being forced to forego their education to help support their families financially, and a generation of children struggling with the physical and psychological scars of war.
But there's still hope. Thanks to our generous donors we’re bolstering our long-term development programs which focus on keeping mums and their babies healthy, provide access to clean and safe water, protect children from harm and deliver quality education.
Syria and Türkiye Earthquake
In the early morning of 6 February 2023, a tragic earthquake of 7.7 magnitudes struck at the border of Türkiye and Syria. It is one of the strongest to hit the region in the past 100 years and was felt in Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon. Amid waves of aftershocks — and a second earthquake with a 7.5 magnitude — UNICEF teams are on the ground in Syria, rushing life-saving assistance to children and families.
Many children were fast asleep when the initial earthquake struck, making the situation even more dangerous. Alongside the devastating loss of life, schools, hospitals and other medical facilities have likely been damaged or destroyed in the wake of the earthquake, meaning the needs and recovery will be catastrophic and long-lasting in a region already impacted by Syria's 12-year brutal civil war.
Before the war: Children share their memories
In 2023, nearly 7 million children will require humanitarian assistance in Syria.
About 2 million children are out of school inside Syria.
Syria’s many challenges
Sadly, for many children in Syria, war is the only thing they know. They continue to live in fear of violence and landmines. In 2021, a third of children in Syria showed signs of psychological distress, families are struggling to put food on the table, and nearly one-third of all children are chronically malnourished.
Syria is also experiencing one of the largest education crises in recent history, with a whole generation of Syrian children paying the price of conflict. Education facilities are overstretched, and many schools cannot be used because they have been destroyed, damaged, shelter displaced families or are being used for military purposes.
Children with disabilities carry a double burden when it comes to violence, threats to their health and safety, hunger, risk of abuse, and loss of education. Lack of mobility and difficulty fleeing harm have further compounded the challenges they face.
How we’re protecting the rights of children in Syria
UNICEF is on the ground in Syria and neighbouring countries, working with local partners to provide emergency health care, vaccinate babies against preventable diseases, treat children who are acutely malnourished and deliver emergency water and sanitation facilities.
We’ve ramped up our work to help children and their caregivers recover from trauma by delivering life-saving support and services for children struggling physically and psychologically. We’ve also increased the number of children in school, while finding alternative pathways to learning to increase education opportunities for the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach children. And when emergency strikes, we’re on the ground, helping to keep children safe from harm.
The Power of Education in a Syrian Refugee Camp
We reached nearly 3 million children under five, and mothers, with essential nutrition services in 2022.
We helped 1.6 million children with UNICEF-supported education services in 2022.
UNICEF’s cash transfer for basic needs
Sabah has been displaced for ten years due to the crisis in Syria. The income she makes barely keeps her family afloat. Because of conflict and displacement, Sabah has not been able complete her children’s registration in the civil registry. Her family’s financial hardship, coupled with the lack of legal documentation, have kept her children out of school.
UNICEF’s Cash Transfer for Basic Needs provides highly vulnerable families, like Sabah’s, with unconditional cash assistance and referrals to essential services. It targets families with children aged 0 – 17 years at locations in most need. Referral support includes enabling out of school children to resume learning, helping children with missing papers to obtain legal documentation and aiding children with disabilities to access social services.
“I used the money we received to complete the children’s papers in the civil registry, and I bought them some new clothes they can wear to the learning centre. I also purchased food items for us,” said Sabah.
Through the program, the children were also referred to a UNICEF-supported centre, where they benefit from a self-learning program that's designed to help out-of-school children to catch up on their missed education.
Meet Ahmad, a 13-year-old boy who supports his family by herding sheep.
After Ahmad’s father fell from the roof of a building, causing temporary paralysis, Ahmad had to leave school to support his family and pay for much needed medical treatment.
“I herded our neighbours’ sheep every day from early morning till sunset. It was exhausting, but what saddened me the most, was skipping school. I also missed my friends,” said Ahmad.
After learning about education services at a UNICEF-supported centre, Ahmad began to attend a self-learning program designed for out-of-school children to help them make up for missed learning. Ahmad continued to herd sheep, but only after school and on weekends.
“When I go to work, I take my books with me to read and do my homework,” he said. “I have to work hard to recap what I missed in school during the past two years.”
In Syria, we’re making a difference in:
Improving health service delivery so families can access high quality maternal and child health care.
Delivering high-impact nutrition interventions in health facilities and communities to prevent, identify and treat acute chronic malnutrition.
Establishing inclusive childhood education centres to provide quality early learning opportunities for young children and supporting school readiness.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools and health centre.
Providing parents, caregivers and teachers with the knowledge and skills to eliminate harmful practices and better protect children from violence and abuse.
Adolescent Development & Participation
Supporting equitable and inclusive education, developing life skills, and elevating young people’s voices.
Help the children of Syria
By donating today, you can help children like Hamada to achieve his dream of one day becoming a civil engineer.
The impact of our work
Every child has the right to be healthy, educated, and live safe from harm.
14 March 2023
Twelve faces of Syria: children who have known nothing but war
It has been 12 years since the onset of the war in Syria. These 12 children have known nothing but conflict, yet still, they hold hope for a better tomorrow.
14 February 2023
Hope and survival in Syria and Türkiye
Amidst the devastation there is hope.
6 February 2023
Heartbreak at the Syria-Türkiye border earthquake
People gather around collapsed buildings as rescue teams look for survivors following an earthquake in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
2 July 2022
Want to know how your donation makes a difference?
Looking to dig deep for children and young people and make a charity donation? You have come to the right place.
3 March 2021
Ten faces of Syria
Today, 2.6 million children are displaced inside Syria and millions more have fled to neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and beyond.