UNICEF launched an urgent appeal Wednesday for $23 million, asking Canadians to support emergency efforts for families who have fled their homes and are in crisis inside and outside of Syria. The UN says 1.5 million are in need of aid.
The children’s agency earlier called for $39 million, but received less than half that, despite media reports of increasing violence. It is one of several international agencies with a funding gap that could grow larger as Syrian casualties mount.
“Even a few weeks ago people were coming in steadily, but in manageable numbers,” said UNICEF’s Jordan-based regional communication chief Simon Ingram. “Now we’re looking at a very different scenario.
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“People were being hosted in communities, or staying with relatives. Now we’re preparing a camp site in northern Jordan to shelter anywhere up to 150,000.”
After meeting with Syrian opposition members and human rights activists Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada was “prepared to do more” to help, on top of its current $8.5-million aid commitment. The situation in Syria has “deteriorated,” he said.
The civil war has widened as rebels push from the countryside into the largest cities and meet with massive retaliation from government forces. Aid groups working in Syria are struggling to deliver emergency supplies.
“They’re heroic,” Ingram said of the 23-person UNICEF team and their local partners. “They’re under bombardment, they risk their lives every day, but they’ve managed to get emergency supplies and hygiene equipment to makeshift shelters across cities. Twenty schools we know of are sheltering up to 200 people each. Water and electricity are sporadic and fuel is scarce.”
As quiet neighborhoods in Damascus and Aleppo turn into battlegrounds, the speed and violence of the onslaught have hit children the hardest.
Visit UNICEF. Com to help.