UNICEF warns of a child malnutrition crisis in Syria

UNICEF warns of a child malnutrition crisis in Syria

The United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF) warned today (Wednesday) of a malnutrition crisis for children in Syria, after 12 years of conflict, in addition to the recent deadly earthquakes that hit the country last February.

UNICEF said in a statement issued by its regional office in the Jordanian capital, Amman, today, that with the conflict in Syria entering its 13th year, hostilities continued unabated in several parts of the country, especially in the northwest, where grave violations of children´s rights continue. Or nearly 13,000 children have been injured in Syria, according to United Nations data.

Children continue to live in fear of attacks, displacement and levels of malnutrition are rising, according to the statement, a copy of which was provided to Xinhua.

UNICEF indicated that, according to estimates, about 610,000 children under the age of five suffer from stunting in Syria, which is caused by chronic undernutrition and causes irreversible physical and mental damage to children, affecting their ability to learn and their productivity later in adulthood.

UNICEF pointed out that high prices and insufficient income mean that millions of families are struggling to make ends meet amid an unprecedented economic crisis, as nearly 90 percent of people in Syria live in poverty, which negatively affects children´s diet.

According to UNICEF, in 2023, prior to the deadly earthquakes that struck Syria on February 6, 2023, more than 3.75 million children required food assistance across the country, while nearly 7 million children across the country are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. .

"After years of conflict and two catastrophic earthquakes, the future of millions of children is hanging by a thread," the statement quoted UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Adele Khader, as saying.

"It is our collective responsibility to assure children that their future is also our priority," she added.

"We must respond to the needs of children wherever they are across Syria and support the systems that underpin the basic services they so desperately need,"

The statement indicated that the earthquakes destroyed the homes of families and left many children afraid to return to their homes with the continuation of the aftershocks, and that many families are now displaced and live in cramped conditions in temporary shelters and camps.

The statement said that UNICEF is working with its partners to provide and expand the range of life-saving treatment services for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition throughout Syria. Preventive feeding services are also provided, including micronutrient supplementation, growth monitoring and counseling, and support around breastfeeding and complementary feeding. ageappropriate.

UNICEF is also providing basic health services and supplies, clean water and good sanitation to give more children a chance to survive, according to the statement.

The statement indicated that prior to the earthquakes, UNICEF´s Humanitarian Action for Children 2023 appeal in Syria was severely underfunded, with only a fraction of the $328.5 million secured.

He warned that as the situation worsened as a result of the earthquakes, the situation became more urgent and we need $172.7 million for immediate life-saving assistance for the 5.4 million people (including 2.6 million children) affected by the earthquake in Syria.