More than 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are in urgent need of assistance from the international community ahead of a severe winter, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says.
In a press release on Friday, UNICEF called for “further international investment in public services such as education” for the refugee children.
The report came after UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake paid a visit to Lebanon, during which he met with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
At the meetings, “particular concerns were shared about the impact of the approaching winter months, and the need for urgent action to prepare for this especially challenging period,” UNICEF said.
Lake praised Beirut’s role in assisting the Syrian refugee children, saying, “Lebanon has made a tremendous commitment to caring for children fleeing Syria, despite the increased pressure on public services such as health and education.”
“The international community has not only a humanitarian obligation to the children but a responsibility to match Lebanon’s commitment,” Lake added.
Luciano Calestini, another regional UNICEF official, said “more than 100,000 Syrian children are living in informal tent settlements.”
“The winter as we’ve seen in the last few years presents a very critical risk, especially for those living in such settlements,” Calestini added
Half of the 805,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children, according to UN figures.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
More than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for over two years.