TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - UNICEF is urging Canadians to support its emergency appeal for Syrian children as extreme weather conditions including heavy rain, snow and freezing temperatures has greatly worsened the situation for millions of Syrian children and their families.
"The region has recorded the coldest temperatures in ten years putting more than 2 million displaced or refugee children at severe risk," says UNICEF Canada President and CEO David Morley. "We are urging Canadians to once again show their generosity and support our work reaching these families who have already lost so much and are now struggling to survive a frigid winter."
The Za'atari refugee camp in northern Jordan which shelters 55,000 Syrians has seen widespread flooding and freezing temperatures. Tents have been swamped resulting in some 2,000 people now sheltering in the UNICEF school. Seventeen of UNICEF's 19 child friendly spaces - the only safe places in the camp other than school for children to play, socialize and learn - were severely damaged and remain closed for repair.
Many children in Za'atari are without shoes and socks and mothers have reported difficulties reaching medical clinics because of the harsh conditions. Lost and freezing children have been found alone in the camp.
Since the beginning of January this year, close to 10,000 Syrians have sought safety in Jordan.
Tented settlements of Syrian families seeking safety in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley are flooded but families have nowhere else to go and are in urgent need of basic items like fuel, blankets and warm clothes. In northern Iraq increasing numbers of children are getting sick as temperatures drop. And as deadly conflict continues in Syria families take shelter in large often unheated public buildings.
"We are extremely grateful for donations the Canadian public and international community gave UNICEF last year," says Morley. "But we have received very little since the beginning of 2013 and as the situation deteriorates support is more critical than ever before."
Over the last week UNICEF and partners have been working around the clock across the region. More than 260,000 people have been reached with life-saving supplies within Syria. Thousands of warm blankets, children's clothes, hygiene kits and other emergency supplies have been disturbed to families in Jordan's Za'atari camp and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. UNICEF is also continuing to vaccinate children and is providing maternal health supplies.
"With no end in sight to this crisis and long winter months ahead we need Canadians to act now so more can be done to reach these children who continue to suffer the most form this conflict," says Morley.
Globally UNICEF has appealed for $196 million to meet the emergency needs of Syrian children and their families. So far $25 million has been received.
To learn more and donate to UNICEF Canada's Syria emergency appeal please visit www.unicef.ca/syria
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.
SOURCE: UNICEF Canada
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