UNICEF plans to reach 2.6 million Syrian children with winter supplies and cash assistance as harsh weather approaches

UN agency for children assesses need for 2016 and appeals for $1.1 billion

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AMMAN, Dec. 7, 2015 /CNW/ - Another harsh winter is looming for more than eight million Syrian children living inside the war-ravaged country or as refugees around the region and beyond.

Preliminary weather forecasts indicate that this winter could be harsher than last year's with temperatures in some mountainous areas dropping as low as minus 13°C during the coldest days of December and January. As in recent years, storms and heavy snowfall are likely to cause hardship for families who are struggling to survive even in normal conditions.

"These months are particularly brutal for children," said Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "They are at higher risk of developing respiratory infections in the cold weather, and—tragically—they are also in danger when families burn plastic or other toxic materials inside their shelters to keep warm." 

Ongoing conflict has displaced more than three million children inside Syria, sometimes multiple times. In neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt more than 2.2 million children are now living as refugees.  

Nearly five years into the crisis, many families' financial resources are exhausted, making purchases of even essentials like warm coats and scarves impossible.

This year, UNICEF is providing a package of assistance for 2.6 million Syrian children inside Syria and across the region. The focus will be on children who have been hit the hardest, including the internally displaced and those living in hard-to-reach areas or in informal tented settlements.

This support is in addition to ongoing programs in health, education, water and sanitation and protection which continue to reach millions of children around the region, and the recently introduced program to provide cash assistance and vouchers to families with children up to 15 years of age.

Inside Syria, work is underway to provide up to one million children with winter support, including the distribution of locally procured clothing kits, blankets and school heaters in addition to the distribution of cash vouchers – allowing families to buy their own winter needs. An additional 100,000 children will be reached through cross border initiatives from Turkey and Jordan. Vouchers and cash transfers make up the bulk of UNICEF's winter response in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

Earlier today, UNICEF launched its annual appeal for funds to support its programs overall inside Syria and neighbouring countries, seeking US$ 1.1 billion for 2016.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.

SOURCE UNICEF Canada

Image with caption: "A boy sits beside a railroad track on a rainy day near the town of Gevgelija, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, near the Greek border. Next to him, a woman and a young child sit with their luggage beneath an umbrella. Behind them, others who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis walk beside the railroad track. (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151207_C7959_PHOTO_EN_559290.jpg

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892; 647-308-4806 (mobile), tbaggetta@unicef.ca

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http://www.unicef.ca

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