For the more than one million Syrian refugee children displaced in neighboring countries, winter is a particularly challenging time. Many families fled their homes unprepared for a bitter winter, and their makeshift tents provide little protection from sub-zero temperatures.
That's why UNICEF and partners throughout Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey have stepped up support for families during the winter, providing warm clothing kits, quality healthcare, heating supplies and more. U.S. Fund for UNICEF and UPS volunteers played a critical role in these efforts, packing more than 25,000 winter clothing kits bound for Iraq in September.
A brutal winter storm
Preparations were put to the test in early January, as Winter Storm Zina (Huda) brought strong winds, heavy snow and freezing temperatures. It was one of the strongest storms to hit the region in years. The conditions were especially severe for families in Lebanon living at high altitudes.
Following the storm, UNICEF-funded mobile medical units went from settlement to settlement, wherever access was possible. At least 1,600 patients were consulted, and many health cases among children related to the cold temperatures—including flu, fever and skin diseases—were treated.
A winter cash assistance program also had a major impact on Syrian refugees caught in the storm. Through a partnership between UNICEF and World Food Program, nearly 13,000 vulnerable families at camps in Jordan received one-time cash assistance to buy food, clothing, shoes and fuel to help stay warm and safe. The program allows families the chance to choose and prioritize their most urgent needs.
The storm may have passed, but UNICEF's response is far from over. UNICEF continues to distribute winter clothing kits to Syrian refugee children, as well as offer educational and health services. Take a look below for a glimpse at UNICEF programs in action.