UNICEF scales up emergency response

27 May 2015 12:54 AM

AMMAN — With the intensified conflict in Syria causing a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian children and families fleeing to Jordan, UNICEF on Sunday said it is rapidly scaling up its emergency assistance. 

The agency is providing essential support to the new Zaatari tented site near Mafraq in northern Jordan, which is expected to receive its first 5,000 Syrian refugees within days, according to a UNICEF statement. 

Along with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), UNICEF is supporting the site’s water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure to meet the urgent humanitarian needs. Already installed are water bladders, 80 mobile toilets and 80 showers that will reach up to 5,000 people. Water tankers will be deployed as soon as refugees join the camp, the statement said.

UNICEF has also provided additional emergency supplies to meet the initial needs of up to 25,000 Syrians, including basic family water kits, child friendly space tents, school-in-a-box sets, early childhood development kits, tarpaulins, plastic mats and other emergency items. 

“We are witnessing a large-scale movement of children and families across Syria’s southern borders into Jordan, which is creating a developing humanitarian crisis,” UNICEF Jordan Representative Dominique Hyde said. 

 “UNICEF and partners are in a race against time to get clean water, toilets and showers ready at Zaatari before the first displaced Syrian families arrive here within days.”

More than 13,000 Syrians have arrived at the Jordan refugee transit sites since the beginning of July, almost half in the past week alone, placing increasing strain on facilities, according to the statement. 

UNICEF provides essential water, sanitation and hygiene services — including around 9,000 baby hygiene kits — at the four transit sites, along with child protection and education. 

The sites were intended to hold 2,160 new arrivals, but have now reached a record high with more than 8,000 refugees — close to four times the capacity. More than 38,800 Syrians in Jordan are registered as refugees or awaiting registration, according to the agency. 

“More than half of all displaced Syrians are children and adolescents, who continue to face psychosocial distress from experiencing violence and displacement. We are seeing an upsurge in the number of women accompanied by their children.”

UNICEF is appealing for $17.8 million to support its emergency response in Jordan, of which some $10.76 million is still required. This includes $3 million now urgently required to support the Zaatari site, to accommodate the growing influx of displaced Syrians.

UNICEF is also providing assistance to tens thousands of displaced Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, as well as to affected families who remain in Syria, the statement said.