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UK hands £2m aid to Syrian refugees

Britain is to provide a further £2 million in aid to provide water, sanitation and protection to vulnerable Syrian children who have fled to Iraq to escape their country's bloody civil war.

Announcing the additional funding, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said that the money would go through aid charity Unicef and will be directed particularly at children arriving in Iraq without their parents or other accompanying adults.

Following the sudden opening of the border with Syria in August, there are now estimated to be around 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq - the majority in the Kurdistan region - with more arriving every day.

Ms Greening said: "Children's lives are being turned upside down by this conflict. That is bad enough, but some of them even have to go through this on their own. They have been exposed to the unimaginable horrors of conflict and now face the terrifying experience of leaving behind home, friends and family and the life they know.

"The UK will help to ensure that children fleeing to Iraq will get the help they need when they are scared, possibly separated from their parents and at their most vulnerable. We must not let these children down."

The new funding will support Unicef's work at its border reception centre and in five new camps in Iraq, enabling them to identify unaccompanied children, children who have been abused, and children with special needs; set up child-friendly spaces in camps; train child protection staff; and provide water and sanitation facilities.

Unicef UK chief operating officer Jon Sparkes said: "We welcome this vital support from the UK Government to help Syrian children who are struggling to cope in desperate situations.

"When I was in Northern Iraq I met Syrian children who had witnessed unspeakable violence. Many had seen family and friends killed in front of them. One three-year-old boy had been shot in his father's arms as he tried to carry him to safety in Syria.

"These children have lived through experiences that no child should and need our urgent help. Unicef is doing everything it can to provide psychological support and emergency supplies like clean water and medications. However, the numbers are huge and we need more funds if we are to reach every child in need.

"We must take action now to sharpen the world's focus on the humanitarian fallout of this conflict. Otherwise we risk an entire generation of Syrian children losing their childhoods and their chance of a future."

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