Winter Storms Worsen Syria Crisis


As winter storms and below-zero temperatures hit the Middle East, thousands of Syrians are fighting to stay warm amidst ongoing conflict and economic strife.

In North-West Syria, 2 million people are displaced or living without adequate shelter. In unpredictable, cold weather, Syrian families suffer in makeshift tents, unfinished buildings, and sheds. These poor housing conditions, combined with the nation’s worsening crisis continue to uproot lives and livelihoods.

Families brace for another harsh Syrian winter in dire conditions

Life in crisis-stricken Syria is difficult even at the best of times, and the winter season is the worst. For many families, winter’s heavy snowfall, widespread flooding, leaking tents and muddy roads make their poor living conditions even dire, severely impacting their physical and mental health. 

These increased health risks, combined with Syria’s deteriorating economic conditions and increasing prices, make it harder for families to survive another winter. And as Syrians face their twelfth winter in displacement, their lack of winter support will force them to resort to harmful coping mechanisms. Including spending less on food and medicine and burning clothes or plastic materials that cause toxic fumes and fire hazards, just to keep warm.

Increased winter appeal support is urgently needed to protect vulnerable Syrians

As millions of displaced and poor Syrians continue to battle freezing temperatures, increased winterisation support is desperately needed. A timely winterisation response will mitigate protection risks, including for children, older persons, and other vulnerable groups, and reduce negative coping mechanisms.

With sufficient funding, our international community can help keep those displaced warm with enough fuel, cash assistance and insulating items such as winter clothing, high thermal blankets and carpets during the coldest months. Where organisations like Islamic Relief Australia are on the ground in Syria, providing lifesaving aid to displaced families living in overcrowded camps throughout the harsh winter months.

Families like Um Ibrahim’s are in dire need of aid

In the many camps scattered across the north of Syria, Islamic Relief is delivering immediate winter support. Um Ibrahim and her 5 children are among those living in a camp, with only a tent providing scant protection from the bitter weather.

Photo: Winter is a constant worry of Umm Ibrahim, who needs to look after her five children. Thanks to your generous donations, she and her family can stay warm this winter.

“After we were displaced from our home, we lived in very difficult conditions,” says the 43-year-old. “Winter is like an annual catastrophe for us due to the torrential rain and snow. Rainwater seeps into my tent.

“One time the water flooded our tent and we had to move into our neighbour’s tent until it dried up. The tent was torn for about 2 years, I had to sew it daily to try to fix it as we cannot afford a new one.”

“My children and I feel very cold. We don’t have a breadwinner in our family, so we cannot always turn on the heating. We cannot afford firewood so we go to the nearby mountain to look for a few branches we can use for heating. We have been suffering a lot: we burned some plastic waste for heat and the harmful smoke entered our bodies.”

“Winter in a Syria camp is a catastrophe, but Islamic Relief is our lifeline”

Keeping her children warm is a constant worry for the mother-of-5. But thanks to generous Islamic Relief supporters, last winter was warmer for Um Ibrahim and her children.

“Islamic Relief has provided us with winter heating materials, and thanks to your support we can now turn on heating every day. My children can feel warm and comfortable in this harsh season.

“I hope that you can keep supporting us, we are very happy with the heating materials and we hope that one day we can get a new tent.”

Keep someone warm this winter appeal

This winter, you can be a lifeline for families like Um Ibrahim’s. By giving to our Winter Appeal, you are helping people in 17 countries pushed to the brink of survival. Please donate today.