Iraq: UN agency airlifts supplies for Syrian refugee children, families in Erbil

Syrians stream from their war-torn country into Iraq's Kurdistan region. Photo: UNHCR/G. Gubaeva

2 September 2013 – The United Nations children's agency is scaling up its assistance to thousands of Syrian refugee children and their families in the Kurdistan region of Iraq where tens of thousands of families arrived in recent weeks.

A plane carrying 100 tonnes of supplies - including water tanks, latrine equipment, school materials and temporary schools - landed yesterday evening in Erbil, the UN Children's Fund said in a news release.

The supplies were urgently airlifted from UNICEF's global supply warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark, to respond to the growing needs of Syrian refugees in Iraq, who now number more than 200,000.

According to the UN agency, some 50,000 refugees arrived in the last two and a half weeks, half of whom were children.

“These supplies come just in time,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF's Representative to Iraq. “All of these items are part of a first wave of supplies that will massively scale-up UNICEF's emergency response to the growing number of Syrian refugee children and families in Iraq.”

The supplies, a result of support from the Government of Kuwait and the UPS, also include tap stands, water purification tablets and testing kits; oral rehydration solution; emergency health and hygiene, early childhood development and recreation kits; and safe spaces, according to the news release.

UNICEF is working closely with the Kurdistan Regional Government, UNHCR, other UN agencies, and international and national NGOs to deliver vital essential services – particularly in the water and sanitation, education, health and nutrition, and child protection sectors - to Syrian refugee children and their families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In the past week, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have also delivered and distributed tents, high energy biscuits and special nutrition bars contributed to families in the area.

Almost 200,000 Syrian refugees have fled into Iraq since the onset of the conflict in Syria on March 2011, with some 30 per cent residing in camps and 70 per cent living in Iraqi communities.


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UN agencies fly in urgent aid for Syrian refugees in north Iraq

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