Syria’s Exiled Children Battle Winter’s Chill

November 30, 2012
At the Za’atari refugee camp, the heat of summer has given way to cold. ©UNICEF/Jordan 2012/Salah Malkawi

At the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, Syria’s exiled children and their families are bracing themselves for the onset of winter. In Jordan’s northern and central regions, temperatures can easily drop below freezing during the winter months, and snowfall is not uncommon. Some of the displaced, like Shorook, 9, and Malak, 13, came prepared when they crossed Syria’s southern border to reach the camp. “We bought a suitcase of winter clothes," says Shorook, “but it was very difficult for us to carry.” Other families came to Jordan with nothing and rely on UNICEF’s distributions of clothing packages. Says Safa, a mother of five, “We didn’t bring many clothes from Syria, only what we were wearing. It’s freezing at night—when my seven-month-old baby wakes up, her fingers feel icy.” Ten-year-old Mohammed and his family have been living in a tent at Za’atari since October. While he’s been happy at the camp, the increasingly cold weather has made life far more difficult. “The water in the showers is freezing—it’s too cold to wash in,” he says. “My family all have one blanket each. One isn’t enough to stay warm at night, but I can’t take anyone else’s blanket.” Because of the cold, Mohammed and his friends no longer play outside and Mohammed has missed school more than once. “I like school, and I like to learn maths, but I can’t go to school when it gets too cold because I get sick,” he says. Heba, Safa’s six-year-old daughter, doesn’t go outside either and has health complaints, too. “I have lots of stomach aches in the morning,” she says. UNICEF is accelerating plans to winterize the camp and is scaling up assistance to Za’atari’s residents, distributing blankets and warm clothing, and installing heaters and water boilers. Still, more help is needed as the temperatures continue to drop. Please join UNICEF in its efforts on behalf of Syria’s displaced children and families.