Record 9.3 million Syrian children need aid: UN

Displaced Syrian children returning to their tents with donated clothing, in Dana, in Syria's Idlib province, on April 30, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - More Syrian children are in need than at any time since a devastating civil war erupted over a decade ago, but funding for them is dwindling, the United Nations warned on Sunday (May 8).

"Syria's children have suffered for far too long and should not suffer any longer," the UN children's agency said in a statement.

A total of 9.3 million Syrian children are in need of aid both inside the country and in the wider region where they have fled, Unicef spokesman Juliette Touma told Agence France-Presse.

"More than 6.5 million children in Syria are in need of assistance, the highest number recorded since the beginning of the crisis, more than 11 years ago," the agency statement added.

In neighbouring countries, 2.8 million Syrian refugee children depend on assistance, Ms Touma said.

Syria's war is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions since it began with a brutal crackdown of anti-government protests in 2011.

It escalated into a devastating and complex conflict that drew in numerous actors including militant groups and regional and international powers.

"Children's needs, both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, are growing," said Ms Adele Khodr, Unicef's Middle East chief.

"Many families struggle to make ends meet. Prices of basic supplies including food are skyrocketing, partially as a result of the crisis in Ukraine."

Children are among the most vulnerable, and the UN warned they are bearing the brunt of the impact.

Unicef said the agency faced a severe cash shortfall to provide aid.

"Funding for humanitarian operations is meanwhile fast dwindling," Ms Khodr said. "Unicef has received less than half of its funding requirements for this year."

Unicef called for US$20 million (S$28 million) to fund "cross-border operations" in north-west Syria - the country's last major rebel enclave - to support "the only lifeline for nearly one million children".

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