Almost 10 years of relentless fighting have caused misery and suffering to millions of Syrian children.
As of January 2020, over 2.7 million people in northwest Syria (NWS) — including over 1 million children — urgently need food, shelter, clean water and medical assistance.
There are currently 586,000 internally displaced people in northwest Syria, with 80% of whom being women and children.
These children have lost everything; their friends, homes, schools and some have even lost their families.
Having witnessed the unimaginable horrors of bitter conflict, they are now left with traumatised, vulnerable and without hope.
We cannot leave them to suffer alone.
Our teams are on the ground, delivering life-saving food, medicine and clean water.
We’re also offering psychological support to children who’ve been deeply affected by the ongoing violence.
In 2018 alone, UNICEF screened more than 1.3 million children and pregnant and lactating women for acute malnutrition.
Malnutrition is an extremely dangerous condition which can have irreversible consequences for a child’s development, leading to stunting.
Poor nutrition can severely impair a child’s cognitive function and increase the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.
This is why it’s imperative that no child goes without much-needed vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
To prevent epidemics, such as outbreaks of polio and measles and water-borne diseases, UNICEF and partners are providing a targeted response in the highest-risk areas.
To ensure that no child is left behind, UNICEF continues to advocate for the immunization of children in hard-to-reach areas.
In 2019 alone, we have vaccinated 3.5 million Syrian children against Polio.
MILLION Syrian children against Polio
Syria, and its surrounding neighbours boast a versatile climate, with scorching summers, and bitterly cold winters.
With many families having fled with nothing but the clothes on their back, thousands of refugees are ill-equipped to deal with extreme weather conditions.
With children already living in poor, cramped and uncomfortable conditions, it’s imperative that they have appropriate clothing to keep warm and dry the winter months.
Because of this, UNICEF has distributed thousands of summer and winter clothes kits to children in refugee camps throughout the region.
Education is key to children escaping a life of poverty. Girls are particularly vulnerable when their education is limited or halted.
Girls who are out-of-school are more susceptible to child or forced-marraige. Child marriage robs girls of their future and forces them to relinquish their childhood.
Natural disasters and conflicts threaten children’s futures by taking away their schools and their education – nearly 1 in 4 out-of-school children live in crisis-affected countries.
In Syria, the ongoing war has caused the widespread destruction of the nation’s educational infrastructure.
UNICEF is working with its partners to establish schools and Kindergartens in Syria, and refugee camps throughout the region.
Rimas, is five and a half years old, which is almost as old as the place she calls home –Za’atari Refugee Camp.
Born in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Rimas belongs to the first generation of children who know nothing but life inside the camp. Currently there are over 44,000 children leaving in the camp.
Fatima, Rimas’ mother, explains the difficult journey the family had to make from Syria, while she was pregnant with Rimas.
“We walked the last few miles to the border. It was difficult with the bags and the baby inside me,” explains Fatima.
“It was about two and a half months before the due date. She was very small and thin. Many people said she would not survive.
“Thank God, five years later, Rimas has grown up to become such a sweet girl,” says her proud mother.”
Rimas (5 and a half years old) waits to register for Kindergarten
Today Rimas is registering for Kindergarten in a UNICEF-supported school. Despite everything, Rima’s mother is committed to her children’s education.
“I want them to continue education till they finish university, I want them to be educated, because when there is no education people would have nothing.
“Many people in Syria are gone, including doctors and teachers. And the new generation is not getting the education they need and that is sad. The key to a good education is to start early with the children so they can start learning from a young age.
“I told Rimas that we needed to go and register her in Kindergarten. Her response was ‘Really Mom? Let’s go!’”
Rimas gives her first day in Kindergarten a big ‘thumbs up’. “They teach us everything here, like the alphabet, and we get to play. And they teach us how to say ‘Meow’! Meow! Meow!”
Rimas already has big dreams for her future and she knows how to achieve them. “If I want to become a doctor, we must start studying.”
Rimas attends Kindergarten with her friends
It’s thanks to your donation, that Rimas can attend Kindergarten and begin her education. Currently, 1,100 children are attending Kindergarten in Za’atari but more than 80 per cent of children aged 4 and 5 years in the camp have no access to school.
At least 48 new classrooms are needed to ensure every child can have the best start to their education.
UNICEF has been on the ground in Za’atari Refugee Camp since it opened in 2012, providing WASH, protection, education, health and nutrition, youth and adolescent services and social protection for the over 44,000 children who live there and their families.