A UNICEF official called on Saturday for the international community to assist the U.N.’s unit in preventing war-torn Syria from “losing” a generation of its children.
“It’s extremely important that there be a very robust humanitarian response to the crisis in order to avoid losing a generation,” Edward Chaiban, UNICEF’s director of emergency programs, told Al Arabiya TV.
Four million Syrian children are directly affected by the country’s civil conflict, one million of those reside outside of the country, according to Chaiban.
“Since last year, two million people have dropped out of school and we’ve been unable to reach 700,000 children with essential vaccines. These are an idea of the order of magnitude that we’re dealing with,” said the director.
Chaiban discussed UNICEF’s Syrian initiatives, including their “strong focus” on education and protecting children, adding that UNICEF was “very concerned” about the impact that the upcoming winter months could have on Syrian families.
“Inside Syria there’s about 1.5 million that we do not have full access to, people who are trapped behind combat lines, and we’re concerned that as temperatures drop, they may not have full access to shelter,” he said.
The director noted that UNICEF is $130 million short of a budget of $470 million needed for “essential” services in Syria such as healthcare, education and water sanitation.