Children are the paying the heaviest price for the conflict. Of the four million people affected inside the country, almost half are children. These children face tremendous dangers every day. They are being targeted, killed, maimed, abused, tortured – and orphaned.
During his visit to the country, Mr. Chaiban was struck by the resilience of the Syrian people. “The first response to the crisis has been Syrian families and Syrian communities,” he says. “The courage of those families, the courage of those neighbourhood associations that have arisen to respond to the conflict really struck me. There are young people – 20- to 22-year-olds, really coming together and saying: we are going to take care of ourselves and our people.”
Despite the dangerous circumstances and grim situation, aid workers, too, have risked their lives to reach those in need. A new report released by UNICEF highlights efforts made to assist Syrian children inside and outside the country in such areas as health, water and sanitation, nutrition and education.
Within the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF and its partners have vaccinated 1.3 million children against measles, four million people have been provided with safe water, and over 421,700 children and women have access to basic health services.
But the lack of access inside the Syrian Arab Republic and a lack of funding are the biggest hurdles facing the humanitarian community.
“Syria is a very difficult operating environment,” explains Mr. Chaiban. “We have very significant security constraints, and we have had difficulties also negotiating access. We're really trying our best – across lines, wherever children and women – people in need are, but the resource base has been difficult to mobilize for this crisis.”
UNICEF has only received 22 per cent of the US$68.4 million required –a shortfall that will affect the organization’s ability to effect large-scale vaccination campaigns, access to safe water and scale-up of psychosocial support for children.
“UNICEF, like all our partners in the UN and beyond, requires urgent funding – or these life-saving services will be placed in jeopardy,” appeals Mr. Lake. “We can only meet the growing needs if adequate resources are made available.”