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.

10 Years of War: Syrian Children Share Memories

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Around 6.5 million children in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria.

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About 2.4 million children are out of school inside Syria.

Students sitting at their desks in a damaged classroom, learning from a teacher standing in front of them.© UNICEF/UN0686700/Deeb

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

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children and women accessed primary health care in UNICEF-supported facilities in 2021.

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we helped 1.3 million children with UNICEF-supported education services in formal settings in 2021.

A Syrian mother and child hugging each other.© UNICEF/UN0686857/Aldhaher

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.

Young Syrian boy reading his school books while herding sheep.© UNICEF/UN0674217/Shahan

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:

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.

A Syrian boy learning engineering at school.
© UNICEF/UN0645530/Deeb