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UN: Lifesaving Programs for Syrian Children at Risk

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, speaks with Syrian refugee children, during a visit to the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan, May 21, 2017.

The U.N. children’s fund warns it may be forced to cut some lifesaving programs for millions of children inside Syria and in neighboring countries because it has run out of money.

UNICEF says it has received 25 percent of its $1.4 billion appeal for emergency operations this year.

That is the fund’s the most severe funding gap since the agency began responding to the Syria crisis more than six years ago. It says it urgently needs to receive $220 million or it will be forced to cut vital aid programs for nearly 6 million children inside Syria and for more than 2.5 million Syrian refugee children living in neighboring countries.

Speaking from Amman, Jordan, UNICEF Emergency Coordinator for Syria Response Genevieve Boutin says this will have grave consequences for Syrian children and for host communities in countries of asylum.

“So, what we are talking about here is literally the future of this subregion, especially when we know that one-third of those affected by the crisis are between the ages of 10 and 24,” she said. “We have known all along the importance of investing in these children to protect their future and the future of all these countries.”

Boutin says the investment is at risk of being lost. She says unless UNICEF receives the funding it needs immediately, vital programs for the well-being of these children will have to be scaled down or cut.

“The programs that this includes are, for example, water and sanitation programs for 1.2 million children living in camps, informal settlements and host communities,” she said. “Basic health care and nutrition services for 5.4 million people. Cash assistance for one-half-million families who use this money to keep their kids out of work and in school, and access to education for 2.8 million children.”

If the international community fails to support Syria’s children, UNICEF warns millions of innocent victims of war will be forced to resort to extreme and dangerous measures just to survive; measures such as child labor, recruitment into the fighting and early marriage.