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Confl Health. 2016 Nov 16;10:26. eCollection 2016.

Nutritional situation among Syrian refugees hosted in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon: cross sectional surveys.

Author information

1
Health and Nutrition, United Nations Children's Fund, Middle East and North Africa Region, P.O. Box 1551, Amman, 11821 Jordan.
2
Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Division of Global Health Protection, Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Building 2500, Mailstop E-22, 2500 Century Parkway NE, Atlanta, GA 30345 USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Ongoing armed conflict in Syria has caused large scale displacement. Approximately half of the population of Syria have been displaced including the millions living as refugees in neighboring countries. We sought to assess the health and nutrition of Syrian refugees affected by the conflict.

METHODS:

Representative cross-sectional surveys of Syrian refugees were conducted between October 2 and November 30, 2013 in Lebanon, April 12 and May 1, 2014 in Jordan, and May 20 and 31, 2013 in Iraq. Surveys in Lebanon were organized in four geographical regions (North, South, Beirut/Mount Lebanon and Bekaa). In Jordan, independent surveys assessed refugees residing in Za'atri refugee camp and refugees residing among host community nationwide. In Iraq, refugees residing in Domiz refugee camp in the Kurdistan region were assessed. Data collected on children aged 6 to 59 months included anthropometric indicators, morbidity and feeding practices. In Jordan and Lebanon, data collection also included hemoglobin concentration for children and non-pregnant women aged 15 to 49 years, anthropometric indicators for both pregnant and non-pregnant women, and household level indicators such as access to safe water and sanitation.

RESULTS:

The prevalence of global acute malnutrition among children 6 to 59 months of age was less than 5 % in all samples (range 0.3-4.4 %). Prevalence of acute malnutrition among women 15 to 49 years of age, defined as mid-upper arm circumference less than 23.0 cm, was also relatively low in all surveys (range 3.5-6.5 %). For both children and non-pregnant women, anemia prevalence was highest in Za'atri camp in Jordan (48.4 % and 44.8 %, respectively). Most anemia was mild or moderate; prevalence of severe anemia was less than or equal to 1.1 % in all samples of children and women.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite the ongoing conflict, results from all surveys indicate that global acute malnutrition is relatively low in the assessed Syrian refugee populations. However, prevalence of anemia suggests a serious public health problem among women and children, especially in Za'atri camp. Based on these findings, nutrition partners in the region have reprioritized response interventions, focusing on activities to address micronutrient deficiencies such as food fortification.

KEYWORDS:

Health; Nutrition; Refugee; Survey; Syria

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