UNICEF and partners have launched the “Back to School” campaign for the academic year 2016/2017 in Jordan in early August with similar initiatives ongoing across other Syria crisis countries to encourage increased and equitable access to quality education and learning for all children including young Syrian refugees.
During August, a number of governorates in Syria particularly Aleppo, Homs, Idleb, Al-Hasakeh and Rural Damascus have witnessed heavy clashes. In Aleppo UNICEF is supporting key life-saving responses, including water trucking for the population given the damage to the water network.
In Syria, UNICEF reached more than 186,890 people in 28 hard-to-reach locations with life-saving interventions and critical services and delivered supplies for at least 43,046 beneficiaries in 9 besieged areas in the reporting period.
Across the Syria crisis countries in 2016, UNICEF and partners have reached over 20 million of children under the age of 5 with polio vaccinations and over 1.2 million with a hygiene promotion session and/or hygiene kits. Additionally, UNICEF supported over 580,000 children to access formal education in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
Since the beginning of the year, over 740,000 children and adults participated in structured and sustained child protection and psychosocial support programmes across Syria and countries hosting Syrian refugees in the region.
With winter approaching, UNICEF is gearing-up for a winter response which includes in kind support (children clothing kits, blankets, WASH items etc.), cash assistance and services (e.g. heating of classrooms). UNICEF winter appeal of US$82.4 million aims to reach 2.5 million vulnerable children in the region.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
August witnessed an escalation of fighting especially in Aleppo, Homs, Idleb, Al-Hasakeh and Rural Damascus, further deteriorating the humanitarian situation and resulting in civilian casualties including children. This also had an impact on civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. On 2 August, a barrel bomb hit the top of the Osama Bin Zaid School in Aleppo, causing destruction on the upper floors of the building as well as some minor damage to the ground floor of the building. On 6 August, an airstrike hit the Al Amal Charity Hospital, in Milis town, Idleb governorate, resulting in the killing of 13 people including three children and four health workers (5 to 10 years old – one girl and two boys), with two children and six healthcare workers injured. The attack also resulted in the destruction of hospital equipment and an ambulance. The hospital provides medical care to some 20,000 people in the town and nearby villages and was receiving 250 to 300 patients daily, many of them children.
In Aleppo, electricity remained cut throughout August as continued fighting hampered repair efforts, and power to the city’s water pumping stations has been cut since early August, affecting an estimated 2 million people.
In Homs, military operations and shelling escalated drastically in August including in besieged Al-Waer and northern rural areas. A truce between the Government and Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) was reached for two days (29-30 August) and was extended to 1 September. Negotiations around a local agreement are ongoing.
In Al-Hassakeh, clashes between pro-government forces and Kurdish forces on 18 August displaced an estimated 53,000 people to nearby towns and cities. The escalation of fighting during the period resulted in at least 13 civilian fatalities, including women and children and dozens injured. Following a ceasefire on 23 August, many displaced families returned to their homes in Al-Hasakeh city.
In Rural Damascus, civilians and fighters in the besieged town of Darayya were evacuated between 26 to 28 August following a negotiated truce between the Government of Syria and AOGs and not involving the UN. Fighters and their families were transported to Idleb, while a number of displaced families have sought refuge in an IDP shelter in Herjaleh with further displacement expected.
Besieged and Hard to Reach Areas
An escalation of conflict and its impact on the security situation, in addition to lack of approvals for convoy requests significantly reduced UNICEF’s access to HTR and besieged locations during the reporting period.
During August, UNICEF reached more than 186,890 people in 28 hard-to-reach (HTR) locations with life-saving interventions and critical services through its regular programme, inter-agency cross-line convoys and cross-border interventions in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, health, nutrition and child protection. UNICEF delivered supplies for at least 43,046 beneficiaries in nine besieged areas.
Humanitarian Leadership and Coordination
UNICEF continues to collaborate with humanitarian sector partners to deliver WASH, education, child protection and nutrition services to conflict-affected populations. UNICEF leads the WASH, Nutrition and Education sectors and is the subsector lead for Child Protection.
The WASH sector has been active in helping to contain the risk of disease outbreaks during the hot summer months in addition to responding to the humanitarian situation in Aleppo through the provision of fuel and rehabilitation of key infrastructure damaged by fighting.
Moreover, WASH sector partners have conducted assessments across the three operational hubs which provide an overview of the WASH situation nationwide and main humanitarian needs faced by the population inside Syria. This is an important step forward as a significant proportion of the data is at community level. All data is analyzed with partners across the three hubs to contribute to a better targeted plan for the sector in 2017.