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UNICEF concerned about reports of children trapped in Qusayr

2013-05-21

DAMASCUS/AMMAN/GENEVA, 21 May 2013 – UNICEF is extremely concerned about the safety of civilians in the embattled city of Qusayr in Syria and fears that thousands of children and women could be trapped there by fighting.

Heavy clashes have been reported in Qusayr, a city near the Lebanese border, with a population of some 30,000.  Between 12,000 and 20,000 people, many of them children, are thought to still be inside the city. 

In recent days, hundreds of families have fled into Lebanon and various areas in Syria.  UNICEF, other UN agencies and partners are providing much needed humanitarian assistance including food, clothes and hygiene kits to many of those who have been displaced.

In Hasiaa close to Homs, UNICEF and partners are supporting some 500 families made up of women, children and elderly from Qusayr and nearby villages. 

They are joining an additional 1,144 families who had previously fled Qusayr where fighting has flared over the past month.   

Many of the families left at night with little or no possessions. Aside from providing clothing and hygiene kits, UNICEF and partners will also start trucking in critically needed water and improve the sanitation in the coming days.

The situation is desperate.  Hasiaa gets cold at night and sporadic rains have made life for children and the weakest particularly precarious as families struggle to find shelter in the area. Many have cramped into two schools, unfinished buildings and tents.

UNICEF has repeatedly called on all parties to comply with their international legal obligations and respect the sanctity of children’s lives.  The continued brutal violence in Syria is causing extreme human suffering and loss of life.

Since March 2011, some 4.25 million people, nearly half of them children, have been displaced inside Syria and an additional 1.5 million people have fled to neighbouring countries and are in need of humanitarian assistance.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.