Canada's extension of Syria match fund critical for getting life-saving support to 8.25 million children at risk

UNICEF Canada President & CEO responds to Government of Canada announcement

OTTAWA, Jan. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, at a press conference, The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced that the Government of Canada is extending its commitment, through the Syria Emergency Relief Fund, to match every eligible dollar donated by individual Canadians in response to the Syrian Crisis until February 29. David Morley, UNICEF Canada's president and CEO took part in today's announcement and had the following response to the match extension:

"We're very pleased by Canada's commitment today to extend the match for the Syrian crisis response—allowing for Canadian donations made up until February 29 to reach twice as many children and families in Syria and the region with critical, life-saving support. This extension mirrors the good will and pride felt across the country in support of the 25,000 arriving Syrian refugees and allows us to build on this momentum and continue to reach out to generous Canadians to support relief efforts in Syria and the region. Ultimately this means we can provide more urgent relief to more children and their families.

We've seen how Canadians care deeply about these children with their outpouring of support to this horrific crisis in recent months. With their generous support, we are working to ensure the most vulnerable children and their families have the care and support they need, but the challenge is tremendous. I encourage Canadians to take advantage of the Government of Canada's match and donate before February 29 so that we can reach children caught in this crisis with the life-saving support they need."

No end in sight  
"The crisis has never been as large as it is today, with no end to the conflict in sight. If ever there was a time to make a significant investment, it is now. On behalf of the 8.25 million children at risk in Syria and the region, I'd like to thank both Canada and Canadians for their ongoing support for relief efforts in the region, where the vast majority of affected children and families are living and where millions of children remain at risk.

The conflict in Syria is unrelenting. Syrian children and their families have endured nearly five brutal years of war. They have witnessed unspeakable violence. They have been deprived of their most basic needs.  They have been force to leave their homes. Collapsed health services have left children highly vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases such as measles, pneumonia and polio. In areas of heavy conflict, indiscriminate bombing and shelling have destroyed water and sanitation infrastructure leaving millions of people at risk of disease outbreak. This conflict has forced more than half of all Syrians to leave their homes and more than 17 million people are in need of support in Syria and in neighbouring countries – including more than eight million children. The majority are still living inside Syria, where UNICEF is responding to those most in need through coordinating relief efforts and providing health care, education and protection to children and their families and reaching those in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

Neighbouring countries are also suffering the dire consequences of this humanitarian crisis, with the influx of more than four million refugees. They have fled their homes and made dangerous journeys seeking a safe place to live. UNICEF has staff and partners on the ground in all the affected countries in the region, providing critical help and supplies to families and children in refugee camps and host communities to ensure that children have the access to health, education and protection that is their right. And to ensure that they have the time and space to play and just be kids."

A generation at risk 
"As we read the uplifting stories this week of the Syrian children welcomed to Canada beginning their first semester in their new schools, I am reminded of a twelve-year-old girl, Hadija. Hadija and her family had fled Syria when the violence in Aleppo got so bad that there was no work, no food and no water. I met her when I was visiting our relief efforts in Iraq. I asked her to read me something from a book she had beside her, but she couldn't. Hadija should have been in Grade Six, but hadn't been able to go to school since the war started, so she had forgotten how to read. Hadija is the face of this conflict—a girl out of school who is losing out on the opportunity to reach her full potential. The children of Syria are a generation at risk of losing everything. They want to go to school, be protected and be comforted. These children should be more than reason enough for us all to want to help.

Quote from The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie:
"The Government of Canada is proud to extend the Syria Emergency Release Fund until February 29 2016, to help refugees in Syria's neighbouring countries. With the collaboration of international and Canadian humanitarian organizations we will help meet basic humanitarian needs of people affected by the conflict in Syria, including shelter, food, health care, and access to water."

B-roll video and high-resolution photo resources about the Syrian crisis are available here

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 For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit


Image with caption: "A woman carrying a girl wearing a light jacket stands outdoors in heavily falling snow, near a tent shelter, on a bitterly cold day in a host community in Dikmen Valley – an urban transformation project area – in Ankara, the capital. A pipe behind them provides heat in the tent. Heavy snowfall, snow storms and strong winds are making daily life harder, especially for children who lack winter clothing. (Photo credit: © UNICEF/UNI177414/Yurtsever) (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at:

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),


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