The humanitarian agency lacks the money to serve the millions displaced by the Syrian civil war.
Of the 4 million people within Syria whose lives have been upended by a violent and deadly civil war, nearly half are children.
Another one million refugees, more than half of them under the age of 18, have scattered across five borders – to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. An estimated 7,000 people join their ranks every day, according to the UN.
Amid the human swell, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns that an entire generation of Syrian children is at risk from societal collapse. And the agency says it needs more money to carry out its mission.
One in five schools in the tattered country is destroyed, and water availability is one-third what it was before the crisis began two years ago, according to UNICEF.
“Millions of children inside Syria and across the region are witnessing their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict,” writes UNICEF Director Anthony Lake, in the foreword to Syria’s Children: A Lost Generation?, a report released this month. “We must rescue them from the brink, for their sake and for the sake of Syria in future generations.”
UNICEF has delivered water treatment supplies to 4 million Syrians so far. The agency plans to increase its reach and supply 10 million people with purification tablets.
To provide these services through the end of June, UNICEF says it needs $US 195 million. The agency has received only 20 percent of its request and says it may have to suspend some of its projects by the end of March.
Beyond services, food production, too, has been crippled. The civil war has damaged irrigation canals, leading to rising food insecurity.
“Close to 10 percent of the Syrian population is now in need of food assistance,” said Dominique Burgeon, in January. “Of course, with the massive drop in food production, this number can only rise in the coming weeks and months if the situation is left unchanged.” Burgeon is the director of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton