A Winter of Suffering

Syrian refugees in Lebanon face ongoing suffering.

Harsh weather conditions such as snow, ice and flooding pose life-threatening risks, adding to the plight of families who already face a constant battle for survival.

The ongoing conflict, now into its eleventh year, has created an unprecedented displacement crisis. 6.5 million Syrians are refugees and asylum seekers, and 6.7 million are internally displaced within the country’s borders, the majority of whom are living in overcrowded displacement camps where poverty and disease are rife.

In some camps, the temperature drops as low as -10 degrees Celsius, making life in a makeshift shelter difficult to bear. Most shelters are made from fragile materials such as plywood, metal and plastic, leaving families totally defenceless against extreme weather conditions.

A severe economic crisis has made it impossible to afford basic essentials such as fuel for stoves. This leaves many with no other choice than to resort to harmful coping strategies, such as burning toxic rubbish to heat their tents.

As the temperature plummets across Syria and the surrounding countries, staying alive becomes a daily struggle for refugees. Families are forced to make impossible choices, such as blankets or medicine, food or warmth.

Just as we approach the winter months, Syria is experiencing a disastrous wave of COVID-19. In the northwest of the country, an area home to considerable numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the number of daily new cases has hit a new record. The healthcare system is completely overwhelmed - intensive care units (ICUs) are close to 100 percent capacity and supplies of oxygen are running dangerously low.

Food insecurity in Syria is currently at its highest ever level. 12.4 million people - 60 percent of the population - lack sufficient access to food, while 1.3 million are severely food insecure. With inflation crippling the economy, the cost of basic foods to feed a family of five for a month - such as bread, rice and lentils - now far exceeds the level of money available to most refugee families.

A simple meal is now out of reach. Parents are making desperate decisions to survive, such as eating less food so there is enough for their children, going into debt, and selling possessions to afford food.

Imagine living like this. Imagine choosing between paying for your child’s surgery and putting food on the table for your family. Imagine choosing between heating your tent and repairing the leak in its roof. Imagine choosing between your family’s wellbeing and your own.

With your help, we can ensure that no one has to make these impossible choices. As well as providing lifesaving cash assistance, we are on the ground distributing winter survival packs containing food, blankets and mattresses.