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UNICEF gets assistance to children evacuated from besieged area of Homs

2014-02-11

HOMS, Syria 11 February 2014 – At least 500 women and children were among civilians evacuated from the besieged old city of Homs over the past few days during the ongoing humanitarian operation being undertaken by the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The humanitarian pause was the first that the UN has brokered in the embattled old quarter of the city which has been under siege for more than 600 days.

“The children who came out looked frail and emaciated,” said UNICEF's Tarek Hefnawy who took part in the operation.

Despite coming under attack, the humanitarian convoy which entered the Old City district of Homs on 8 February managed to deliver supplies including sufficient water purification tablets provided by UNICEF to support the remaining population.

UNICEF staff also ensured that children arriving at the reception centre outside the old city were immediately given high-nutrition supplements. A total of 380 children have received on-the-spot vaccination against polio, DPT, Hepatitis B, measles and other preventable diseases. Staff reported the presence of about 20 pregnant women among the evacuees.

UNICEF staff accompanied children identified as vulnerable until they reached safety to ensure they were not separated from their families or otherwise placed at risk.

Before the humanitarian operation began, UNICEF estimated there were more than 1,000 children trapped in Homs.

“This is a very positive break-through but it can only be the beginning,” said UNICEF Syria Representative Youssouf Abdel Jelil.

“We remain extremely concerned over the fate of the children who are still trapped in Homs and in other besieged communities all over Syria. Parties to the conflict must protect children, respect humanitarian pauses and abide by international humanitarian law principles to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who desperately need it,” he added.

Canadians can support relief efforts by making a donation at unicef.ca/syria.

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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.

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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.