Jan 13, 2021

Update: Increasing Access to Education in Syria

Maram, 12, studies at her home in Syria.
Maram, 12, studies at her home in Syria.

Dear Friend,

In 2021, the scale, severity and complexity of humanitarian needs in the Syrian Arab Republic remain extensive. Over 11 million people, including nearly 5 million children, require assistance and more than 6.1 million people are internally displaced. Enduring hostilities are causing continued displacement, and the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are significantly impacting children’s and families’ access to basic services such as food items and safe water.

The year 2020 was marked by intersecting humanitarian crises. In October, internal displacements due to large scale wildfires across the coastal regions in Syria, which burned more than 74,000 acres of agricultural and forested land across NW Syria, left at least 25,000 people displaced. The wildfires have caused an additional 140,000 people to suffer multiple deprivations due to household damage, loss of power, and reduced access to safe water supplies.

As the eleventh year of the Syrian crisis draws near, the adverse effects of a decade-long conflict are evident. Grave violations against children’s rights continue unabated, 2.5 million children aged 5 to 17 years old are out of school, and an additional 1.6 million children are at risk of dropping out. An already overstretched and under-resourced education system in Syria is under immense pressure in efforts to provide learning opportunities to the most vulnerable children. Since the onset of the conflict, the number of out-of-school Syrian children and youth has increased from 0.9 million in the 2011-12 school year to 2.1 million in the 2017-18 school year.

To address the ongoing challenges facing out-of-school children in Syria, UNICEF continues to deliver educational services and materials, psychosocial support, recreational activities and improved learning environments to children who have limited or no access to school. Since the beginning of the program in 2018, 356,619 newly enrolled out-of-school children have been reached through the Self-Learning Program and Curriculum B. With your generous support, UNICEF and partners were able to achieve the following results for children in the second half of 2020:

  • 14,291 out-of-school children (7,118 girls and 7,173 boys) received self-learning materials;
  • 15,613 out-of-school children (7,707 girls and 7,906 boys) enrolled in SLP benefited from stationery and school-in-a box distribution;
  • 15,851 out-of-school children (8,061 girls and 7,790 boys) enrolled in the Self-Learning Program continued to benefit from recreation kits distributed in the first half of 2020;
  • 15,315 out-of-school children (7,790 girls and 7,525 boys)were provided with psychosocial support;
  • 151 educators (105 females, 46 males)were trained on Self-Learning Program Standard Operating Procedures and active learning;
  • 52 workshops, benefitting 2,538 school staff, were conducted to teach school staff how to ensure sanitation and hygiene measures were implemented correctly

With the crisis in Syria now approaching the eleven-year mark, education remains central to UNICEF’s humanitarian response. Education serves not only as a critical protection mechanism, but also as one of the most important resilience-building measures for conflict-affected children and adolescents, regardless of their age, geographic location or socioeconomic status. UNICEF will continue to ensure that all children affected by the crisis in Syria continue their education and access the learning opportunities required to grow into tomorrow’s leaders.

On behalf of the thousands of out-of-school children who are benefitting from your support in Syria, we thank you.

Jan 12, 2021

Update: Supporting Child Migrants and Refugees

UNICEF/UN0381351/Bisol
UNICEF/UN0381351/Bisol

Dear Friend, 

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a critical threat to children on the move. Across the globe, the lives of children and their families have been turned upside down by the rapid spread of coronavirus. In just a few short months, whole countries have found themselves largely confined to their homes in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and potentially lethal COVID-19. But millions of displaced children across the world are denied such basic protections –a home to isolate in, the chance to stay physically distant, or even just the facilities to wash their hands with soap and water. Many live in cramped conditions with limited access to safe water and clean toilets; others are in immigration detention or “left behind,” live with disabilities; are unaccompanied or separated from their families; and lots will struggle to access accurate information in a language they understand.

Displaced children – refugees, migrants or those internally displaced –are already amongst the most world’s most vulnerable, driven from their homes and all they knew and held dear by conflict, disaster, drought, lack of food or grinding poverty. Millions of children and their families live in overcrowded camps, settlements and urban slums where even basic water and sanitation facilities are absent. Access to free or affordable healthcare and other essential services is limited or unavailable, and many families rely on precarious daily wages and informal work to survive. Too often cut off from education, displaced children and their families are often already the hardest to reach with accurate and child-friendly information in a language they understand –and without the protection of school, children and women face increased risk of exploitation, abuse and early marriage. Tragically, misinformation on COVID-19 can exacerbate the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families already face. If the virus takes hold in those communities least able to protect themselves, as seems imminent, the impacts on vulnerable children and their families will devastating, both now and in the longer term.

Today, there are 31 million children who have been uprooted from their homes, including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers. All of them need some form of assistance. Most of them do not have the luxury of calling a doctor when sick, of washing their hands whenever they need to, or of practicing physical distancing to stop disease transmission.

UNICEF is working with partners to prevent the spread of the disease among refugee, migrant and displaced populations. This includes promoting hygiene practices that help prevent transmission in shelters, camps and other accommodation sites. It includes developing accurate, child friendly information on COVID-19 and materials to fight stigma and promote positive parenting. It also includes distributing hygiene supplies and providing access to water.

In Italy, UNICEF is working to reach young migrants and refugees. Those outside formal systems remain particularly vulnerable with limited access to health care, health information and support services. UNICEF is supporting outreach teams who provide vital health screenings, distribute hygiene supplies and share information to vulnerable children and families living in informal settlements. UNICEF is also reaching young refugees and migrants with vital health information through U-Report on the Move and Facebook Live sessions. UNICEF has procured critical supplies including personal protection equipment and hygiene kits for health staff and social workers. In addition, UNICEF has supported remote counselling and psychological support for refugees and migrants, over the phone or online. This support extends to guardians and foster care families who need support and stress management.

In Mexico, UNICEF is working to address the specific needs of at least 251,000 people in border areas, routes and transit points, in communities of origin and return, and at final destinations. UNICEF is working so that the most vulnerable children, families and communities are protected from exposure to and the impacts of COVID-19. UNICEF is working to ensure migrant children’s safe return to school; nutritional support during an increasingly vulnerable time; and the provision of sanitation and hygiene services and supplies. UNICEF is also working to provide psychosocial support to support the mental wellbeing of migrant children who have been through harrowing journeys.

In Kenya, UNICEF is working to ensure refugee children continue their education. Many children are at high risk of dropping out of school due to COVID-19 and the sudden school closures, not returning once their school re-opens. UNICEF is committed to helping refugee children continue their education. UNICEF has worked to connect these children with radios so they can complete radio classes while social distancing and remaining safe. UNICEF has also worked to contain the spread of COVID-19 in crowded camps and to ensure refugee populations have the right information when it comes to public health.

UNICEF works around the world to help protect the rights of migrant and displaced children. UNICEF is providing life-saving humanitarian supplies in refugee camps. UNICEF is running child-friendly spaces – safe places where children on the move can play, where mothers can rest and feed their babies in private, where separated families can reunite. In addition, UNICEF supports national and local governments to put in place laws, policies, systems and services that are inclusive of all children and address the specific needs of migrant and displaced children, helping them thrive. And at this critical moment, UNICEF is working to protect refugee and migrant children from the global pandemic and its socioeconomic impacts.

Thanks to your support, this important work to ensure every refugee and migrant child’s fair chance in life can continue.

On behalf of every child, thank you.

Nov 13, 2020

UNICEF Leading the Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccine

UNICEF/UNI317998/Choufany
UNICEF/UNI317998/Choufany

Dear Friend,

While UNICEF continues to implement programs to keep children and their families safe and supported throughout the pandemic, we are also leading efforts to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low-and lower middle-income countries.

As the largest vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF is leveraging its unique experience to work with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of vaccine doses as well as freight, logistics and storage of COVID-19 vaccines. The organization will lean into its decades of work in immunizations to ensure swift, equitable access once vaccines are available: mapping cold chain equipment capacity, developing advance purchase agreements, advising governments on immunization policy, building trust in vaccination and demand for forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines.

As details continue to be developed and refined, UNICEF’s decades of expertise in procuring vaccines and supplies and delivering health programs, as well as insights gained from the COVID-19 response across the world, will provide a clear roadmap of what will be required to support a swift, effective and equitable global response. That said, UNICEF is undertaking the following work to set the world up for success as it moves forward with a potential rollout of a vaccine:

  • Pre-positioning of over 520 million syringes and 5.2 million safety boxes to fill supply gaps in the most vulnerable communities around the globe;
  • Purchase  nearly 92,000 vaccine fridges, cold boxes and vaccine carriers;
  • Provide 16 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep healthcare workers safe;
  • Support for temperature-controlled freight, ground logistics, and warehousing;
  • 10 million surge stocks of diagnostic test and treatments; and
  • Provide healthcare worker training in hundreds of languages to 215 million healthcare workers

Thanks to your support, UNICEF will be able to mitigate the negative consequences of COVID-19 and work with partners to reimagine and develop a world that is a safer and more equitable place for communities and children everywhere.

 

Many Thanks,

Whitney  

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