UNICEF plans large scale humanitarian assistance program for children in Mideast

GENEVA - The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, is requesting US$613 million to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children in the Middle East in 2014.

UNICEF's "Humanitarian Action for Children 2014" report said conflict, violence and economic turmoil in Syria have affected nearly half of the population, including 4.27 million children.

As of December 2013, over 1.1 million children and their families have been forced to take refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

UNICEF has requested US$250 million for children in Lebanon, US$170 million for children in Jordan, US$105 million for children in Iraq, US$64 million for children in Turkey and US$16 million for children in Egypt.

The agency plans to administer polio vaccinations to 1.3 million children in Turkey and to give 238,500 children access to education and psychosocial support for 103,500 children.

In Lebanon, 840,000 children are planned to be vaccinated against measles, 1,120, 000 children to be vaccinated against polio. In Egypt, 12.8 million children are planned to be vaccinated against polio.

"For Syria and its surrounding region, UNICEF has been appealing for US$835 million to deliver life-saving assistance, including immunizations, water and sanitation, education, and child-protection," UNICEF's Director of Emergency Program Ted Chaiban said in a press conference at the UN Office in Geneva on Friday.

It is the largest emergency appeal on record and almost 40 per cent of the proceeds will be given to Syria and the surrounding region, Chaiban noted.

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