Syria crisis: UNICEF mobilising winter supplies for displaced children

Saturday, November 24, 2012
[PHOTO: © UNHCR/A.Eurdolian] 
Damascus/Geneva: UNICEF is urgently mobilising more than 100,000 children’s clothing kits and around 160,000 blankets, including baby blankets, along with other winter supplies for displaced children in Syria and surrounding countries.

Drawing on its global supply networks, the UN agency is sourcing winter supplies where they are available and can be provided at speed.

“Temperatures are falling fast, down to 5 degrees Celcius this week with expected lows around freezing point. We urgently need to get clothing and other essential items to the most vulnerable children, no matter where they are,” said Ettie Higgins, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Syria.

Many Syrian children fled their homes with only summer clothing. Now they are in temporary shelters and in desperate need of warm clothes. UNICEF is worried about the impact winter will have on children’s health, including increased risk of respiratory conditions. Children are already fragile from the ongoing stress associated with displacement and conflict.

UNICEF is procuring clothing kits for some 75,000 vulnerable children up to 15 years old inside Syria. Each kit includes thermal underwear, long trousers, a woolen sweater, socks, woolen gloves and hat, shoes and a winter jacket.

The blankets will be distributed to children and families displaced by the ongoing conflict, the vast majority inside Syria. They include 11,000 baby blankets for infants in Syria. Of these, more than 26,000 pre-positioned blankets, for example, will be leaving UNICEF’s humanitarian hub in Dubai in the next week bound for Syria, while 41,000 further blankets are being sourced in Pakistan.

Health supplies that can meet the needs of more than 225,000 people for three months are also on their way to Syria from UNICEF’s Copenhagen supply warehouse. UNICEF has already readied half a million school bags, each containing stationery supplies, to boost numbers already distributed. Further supplies are being sourced within Syria where possible.

“Sourcing supplies from around the world and getting them into Syria is only half the solution,” said Higgins. “We face enormous challenges on the ground because of the security situation, but with our network of dedicated partners we will do everything we can to ensure that children get the warm clothes and blankets that they urgently need.”

The situation of the estimated 400,000 Syrian refugees in surrounding countries, around half of them children, is also grim.

In Lebanon, UNICEF plans to reach more than 24,000 children with clothing kits and clothing vouchers, along with an initial 10,000 blankets. In Jordan, 78 heated winter tents for use as child friendly spaces and classrooms are to be set up over the next month. Solar panels are being installed at refugee washing centres in both Jordan and Iraq to provide hot water.

UNICEF urgently needs an additional $79.33m to support its emergency response in Syria and the four surrounding countries.
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