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UNICEF Warns of Catastrophic Threats to Syrian Children Following Earthquakes

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The United Nations Children’s Fund has warned of grave dangers to 3.7 million children in the earthquake-affected areas in Syria.

The February 6 earthquake that struck neighboring Turkey killed more than 50,000 people, including nearly 6,000 in Syria.

In Syria alone, at least 8.8 million people were affected by the devastating earthquake, according to the United Nations

“3.7 million children in affected areas of Syria … face multiple growing and potentially catastrophic threats,” the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement on Thursday.

She cited the emotional and psychological impact of the disaster, the increased risk of disease, and the “lack of access to basic services for families, who have been left vulnerable by nearly 12 years of conflict.”

“The children of Syria have already experienced untold horror and heartbreak,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, who paid a two-day visit to Syria on Thursday.

The earthquake and aftershocks “not only destroyed more homes, schools and places for children to play, but also shattered any sense of safety for many of the most vulnerable children and families.”

UNICEF said it needed “$172.7 million to provide immediate life-saving support to 5.4 million people, including 2.6 million children, affected by the earthquake” in Syria.

Russell added that “providing access to essential services, such as safe water, health care and psychosocial support” can help families rebuild their lives.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged the international community on Wednesday to help earthquake-hit northwest Syria in his first-ever visit to opposition-held areas of the country.

The United Nations has launched a $397 million appeal to help earthquake victims in Syria, but Tedros warned that “we are not getting what is needed for this emergency.”

Syria also faced a deadly cholera outbreak that began last year.

Since 2011, the war in Syria has killed nearly half a million people and forced about half of its pre-war population from their homes.

Many have taken refuge in Turkey, including in areas devastated by an earthquake last month.

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