UNICEF warns of ‘dire’ winter risks for 1 million children in Middle East and North Africa

Syrian children stand in the snow in a refugee camp in the town of Arsal in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on December 13, 2013. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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UNICEF warns of ‘dire’ winter risks for 1 million children in Middle East and North Africa

  • The UN agency said it was facing a $33-million funding gap for assistance to children across the region this winter
  • Cold and rainy weather would hit those living in extremely basic conditions, especially camps or crowded shelters with little protection

AMMAN: The UN children’s fund warned Tuesday that a funding gap and the start of winter could leave nearly one million children “out in the cold” in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing. Staying warm has simply become unaffordable,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The UN agency said it was facing a $33-million funding gap –- two thirds of its total allocation — for assistance to children across the region this winter.
Cold and rainy weather would hit those living in extremely basic conditions, especially camps or crowded shelters with little protection.
“With cold and rainy weather sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, nearly one million children affected by crises in the region risk being left out in the cold,” Cappelaere said in a statement.
“With little nutritious food and health care, children have grown weak, becoming prone to hypothermia and dangerous respiratory diseases,” he said.
UNICEF said it aims this winter to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, providing them with warm clothes, thermal blankets, clean water and other hygiene support.


6,000 migrants arrested in Istanbul crackdown

Updated 39 sec ago
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6,000 migrants arrested in Istanbul crackdown

ISTANBUL: A crackdown on unregistered migrants in Istanbul has seen 6,000 arrests including Syrians in the past two weeks, the interior minister said Wednesday.
There has been concern in recent days over reports that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been sent back to Syria, after being forced to sign consent forms in Turkish that they do not understand.
Soylu denied the claims.
“We have been carrying out an operation since July 12... We have caught 6,122 people in Istanbul, including 2,600 Afghans,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told TV station NTV.
He said Syrians were part of the group, without giving numbers.
“When we catch Syrians who are not registered, we send them to refugee camps,” he said, citing a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay.
However, he said some Syrians were choosing to go back to their home country “voluntarily” to areas where fighting has abated.
Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world.
Most have “temporary protection” permits but these restrict them to the province in which they were registered. The current crackdown is aimed at those who live in Istanbul without a permit to stay in the city.
A coalition of Syrian NGOs said Monday that more than 600 Syrians — mostly with protection permits issued in other provinces — were arrested in Istanbul last week and deported back to Syria, rather than to their assigned provinces.
The crackdown is orchestrated by the Istanbul governor’s office, which is controlled by the central government in Ankara.
It follows the defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party in the Istanbul party, with some arguing that the large presence of refugees in the city had hurt the ruling party’s popularity.
The governor’s office says there are 547,000 Syrians registered in the city.
A survey published this month by Kadir Has University in Istanbul showed growing hostility toward them, rising from 54.5 percent of respondents in 2017 to 67.7 percent in 2019.