Saturday, 20 December 2014 10:31

UNICEF Appeal: $900 Million for Syrian Children

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Thursday it needs more than $900 million next year to help children affected by Syria's civil war, AFP reported. "The Syria crisis represents the biggest threat to children of recent times," said UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Maria Calivis, ahead of the launch of a major UN appeal for Syrian refugees in Berlin later Thursday. "By the end of 2015, the lives of over 8.6 million children across the region will have been torn apart by violence and forced displacement," she said. Calivis said the agency's plans for next year include doubling both the number of Syrian children with access to safe water and sanitation, and the number with access to education. The UN children's agency will continue vaccination campaigns against polio, she said, and deliver care including cash grants and winter clothing to the families of some 850,000 children affected by the conflict. These commitments -- costing around $903 million -"represent the bare minimum", she said, calling on supporters "to help us make these commitments a reality." UNICEF has joined the appeal for urgent support to the World Food Program (WFP) after the UN agency was forced to cut food assistance for 1.7 million vulnerable Syrians across the region. The Syrian Coalition said that “this cut will contribute to the growing sense of desperation particularly among children, nursing mothers, persons with disabilities and the elderly. Families risk being driven towards destitution and many children might be forced into the workplace to increase family income for the purchase of basic food items. This in turn could lead to more school dropout.” Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director said in a press release that “2014 has been a devastating year for millions of children. Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped, and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality." According to UNICEF MENA, 114,894 children were born as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt since March 2011. Bahra said earlier that “we are extremely concerned by the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) announcement that it is suspending food assistance to 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries due to shortages of funds. Those vulnerable refugees desperately rely on this help, especially as they face a harsh winter. With refugees recently freezing to death in Lebanon, the catastrophic consequences of winter have already begun to cause immense suffering.” The suspension of UN vouchers will cause thousands of families to starve to death and will put much more pressure on already strained hosting countries, struggling to accommodate 100,000’s of Syrian refugees. Bahra stresses that the international community has a moral obligation to prevent the looming starvation of hundreds of thousands refugees by providing the necessary funds to keep the UN WFP assistance program running. It is completely unacceptable that refugees, who have fled violence and death in Syria, are left alone to bear unimaginable suffering and fight for survival in such extremely harsh circumstances.” (Source: Syrian Coalition)

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