U.N. issues largest-ever emergency appeal for Syria crisis

UNICEF estimates that children make up more than half of the refugees fleeing Syria.

By Kathryn Reid, Lauren Fisher, and Mike Bailey
Published June 10, 2013 at 12:00am PDT

More than half of all Syrians will need life-saving assistance by the end of 2013, the United Nations warned in its historic appeal to cope with Syria’s “unraveling” chaos.

‘The grim reality of daily life’

“Syria as a civilization is unraveling with as many as half of its citizens in need of urgent help as a result of this savage conflict,” says Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

“The funds we are appealing for are a matter of survival for suffering Syrians, and they are essential for neighboring countries that are hosting refugees.”

The appeal calls for some $5 billion before the end of the year.

“The fact that this is the U.N.’s biggest-ever emergency appeal highlights the grim reality of daily life for the Syrian people,” says Ian Ridley, humanitarian operations director for World Vision.

“Host governments, the U.N., and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] are stretched to the maximum as they respond.”

Children are extremely vulnerable

As fighting escalates in Syria, life for children caught up in the conflict continues to worsen.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, estimates that 4 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian help. More than half of the refugees fleeing Syria are children.

“Donors must use this historic moment to put children first. It is unacceptable that they continue to suffer as they have from this crisis,” says Philippe Guiton, World Vision’s response manager for the Syrian regional crisis.

Aid needed for basic survival

According to a UNHCR statement, people fleeing the brutality of Syria’s civil war face “huge issues of basic survival.”

“The majority of Syrian refugees have little or no private resources to draw on. They are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, and the communities they are living with are also facing massive social issues in coping with this vulnerable and impoverished population,” UNHCR says.

“The vast majority of refugees are dependent on aid, arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs. Three-quarters of refugees are not living in camps, but in villages, towns, and cities. Financial assistance is vital for this invisible population.”

The wave of refugees pouring into Jordan is expected to increase the country’s population by 25 percent by the end of the year if it continues at the current rate, according to UNHCR.

Jordan seeks assistance to cope with the crisis

The Jordanian government has asked the U.N. to open a refugee camp in Azraq to take pressure off the Za’atari camp, which was built for 60,000 but now accommodates 140,000 refugees.

The new camp is expected to hold an additional 100,000 refugees by the end of the year. More than 1,000 Syrian refugees flow across the border into Jordan each day.

World Vision provides water, sanitation for new Jordan camp

World Vision will be providing water and sanitation services in Azraq.

“We have the equipment and experts ready to set up water tanks and provide latrines for a portion of those arriving in Azraq camp. But even with the planned infrastructure, it’s a hot, dry, inhospitable location with many challenges,” Guiton says.

“With funds for the Syrian response running low, it’s unclear where the next round of money will come from to make sure we support those who will be living in these difficult conditions, far from home,” he continues.

Our response in Lebanon

World Vision is also assisting more than 60,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and anticipates that this will increase to about 150,000 over the next few months.

Help includes provision of food vouchers, hygiene kits, and projects to improve access to clean water and sanitation.

We’re also offering classes for Syrian children to facilitate their enrollment in Lebanese schools and providing supplementary classes for those already enrolled in school.

Additionally, World Vision runs Child-Friendly Spaces in Lebanon — safe areas where children can engage in fun activities and recover from emotional scars.

Learn more

Read more about the Syrian refugee crisis and our response on the World Vision Blog.

Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about the Syrian refugee situation in Lebanon and World Vision’s response to the crisis.

How you can help

Pray for children and families impacted by the violence in Syria. Pray especially for families who have been separated due to the conflict, and pray for emotional and physical protection for vulnerable children and families.

Make a one-time gift to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Your gift will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.


  • UN's biggest ever emergency appeal highlights grim reality of Syria crisis.
  • Children are extremely vulnerable.
  • “The vast majority of refugees are dependent on aid, arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs."
  • World Vision is providing water and sanitation facilities for new camp in Jordan.

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