Funding gaps threaten to leave nearly 1 million children out in the cold in the Middle East and North Africa

UNICEF facing $33 million funding shortfall for lifesaving winter supplies and cash assistance for children, placing them at risk of illness, school absences or death

27 November 2018
18 February 2018, UNICEF distributed winter clothes to Syrian refugee children in Basirma camp, located in northern Iraq.

AMMAN, 27 November 2018 – With cold and rainy weather sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, nearly 1 million children affected by crises in the region risk being left out in the cold. UNICEF is facing a US$33 million funding gap – two-thirds of the total appeal - for lifesaving winter assistance for children including warm clothes, blankets and winter health, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.

“Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing. Staying warm has simply become unaffordable,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “With little nutritious food and healthcare, children have grown weak, becoming prone to hypothermia and dangerous respiratory diseases. Without help to protect them from the freezing weather, these children are likely to face dire consequences.”

Falling temperatures will bring even further hardship to thousands of families who are living in extremely basic conditions especially in camps or crowded shelters with little protection from the freezing cold. Last winter, two children died from the cold as they were attempting to flee the war in Syria to Lebanon in search of safety.

Overall this winter, UNICEF aims to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Turkey and Egypt with warm clothes; thermal blankets; water, sanitation, health and hygiene support; and cash assistance for families. UNICEF’s winter response complements existing programmes in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and education and aims to keep vulnerable children across the region warm, healthy and in school this winter.

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Media Contacts

Juliette Touma

UNICEF Amman

Tel: +962 79 867 4628

Tamara Kummer

UNICEF MENA Regional Office

Tel: +962 797 588 550

Joe English

UNICEF New York

Tel: +1 917 893 0692

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