Looming Threat of Winter Major Concern among Syrian Refugees

UNICEF is accelerating its efforts to help children and families displaced by the Syria crisis deal with the coming winter, in a region where temperatures can plummet to below freezing. Refugee leaders voiced concerns about the impact of the cold temperatures on families who fled Syria wearing summer clothing and are living predominantly in tents, along with the effects of rain and strong winds. About 30,000 Syrian refugees—half of them estimated to be children—are sheltering at the tented camp, located in a desert area of northern Jordan.

MAFRAQ, Jordan (October 16 2012) — UNICEF is accelerating its efforts to help children and families displaced by the Syria crisis deal with the coming winter, in a region where temperatures can plummet to below freezing.

Winter conditions emerged as a major issue during a meeting at Za’atari refugee camp yesterday between community leaders and visiting Executive Directors from UNICEF National Committees in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands. 
 
Refugee leaders voiced concerns about the impact of the cold temperatures on families who fled Syria wearing summer clothing and are living predominantly in tents, along with the effects of rain and strong winds. About 30,000 Syrian refugees—half of them estimated to be children—are sheltering at the tented camp, located in a desert area of northern Jordan.

Around 1.2 million people are currently displaced within Syria, while more than 300,000 have registered or are waiting to register as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

“UNICEF is stepping up plans to help refugees in northern Jordan cope with the approaching winter, which will be particularly harsh for younger children,” said Dominique Isabelle Hyde, Representative of UNICEF Jordan. “UNICEF’s response includes warm clothes for children, hot water for showers, and winterized tents for child protection spaces and schools.”

All 90 water, sanitation and hygiene centers at Za’atari camp are to be roofed, along with the provision of hot water for 450 showers. UNICEF will replace the existing Child Friendly Spaces tents at Za’atari and nearby facilities with winterized double skin tents featuring raised floors. Classroom space at nearby Ramtha has already been expanded with the provision of 15 pre-fabricated units. UNICEF is also moving forward with winterization plans in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

“The needs are immense and growing, not just in Jordan but in Syria and neighboring countries,” said David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK. “UNICEF staff and partners have been working tirelessly to keep up with the increasing numbers of refugees and to provide essential basics for children like schooling, child protection, water and sanitation. Our job now will be to help raise the funds UNICEF so desperately needs to keep helping children.”

During their visit to north Jordan, the Executive Directors, David Bull (UK), Gerard Bocquenet (France), Christian Schneider (Germany), and Jan Bouke Wijbrandi (Netherlands), saw firsthand UNICEF’s emergency responses in education, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene. They also met with refugee community leaders, saw the UNICEF-supported drilling for water that is going on near Za’atari, and received briefings from UNICEF staff in Syria and Lebanon.

How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:
Website: www.unicefusa.org/syria
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS (1-800-367-5437)
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, the U.S. Fund will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org