Amman, JORDAN (January 8, 2015) — Syrian refugees, fleeing violence in their homeland, have found their situation exacerbated following the onslaught of winter storm “Huda”, also referred to as “Zeina”.
With temperatures falling below freezing, dark clouds gathered over Lebanon and Jordan Wednesday, carrying heavy winds with driving rain and hail. Snow fell in mountainous areas of Lebanon, and covered Amman and other cities in northern Jordan.
“For refugees already living in very precarious circumstances, this is yet another blow,” said Gareth Richards, CARE Lebanon Country Director. “Millions have fled from the conflict, with few if any belongings, and now they must face the biting cold of winter. It only compounds already unbearable circumstances. There are reports today of two children in Bekaa valley having died from the cold, and three more children in Qalamoun in the north.”
While news reports speak of the high public demand for food and fuel, many refugees CARE staff spoke with did not have the financial means to stockpile goods in anticipation of the storm.
“It’s not a lack of preparation,” said Mr. Richards. “Families simply don’t have the cash necessary to purchase fuel, or repair their shelters or severely substandard housing. They need more assistance, but this crisis response is severely underfunded.”
In December, the UN launched an appeal for an estimated 8.4 billion dollars for the combined humanitarian response in 2015. The 2014 appeal faced a 46% funding shortfall. Aid agencies continue to rally the international community for more funding.
More than 3.4 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, with the largest numbers in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. More than one third of the Syrian population has been displaced by the conflict. The Syria crisis has been described as the greatest humanitarian crisis in the last thirty years.
Many refugees have found shelter in tents, unfinished buildings, and sheds, leaving them particularly vulnerable to winter weather. CARE’s teams across the region have been able to help many, but funding is desperately needed to help many more.
Ayesha is a single mother of five, and a Syrian refugee. She and her children live in a single room in north Lebanon. "The water is dripping on us from the ceiling. Our windows have no glass, water is flowing inside the room.” Ayesha is the sole provider for her family, and like many refugees, struggles for any income. "It is very cold here and we have no heater to turn on. All we have is each other."
Mohammad Sami occupies a single room with his wife and five children, also in north Lebanon. They have no heat and without work or income, Mohammed has been unable to purchase a carpet or mattresses for the family. His family of seven shares two small mattresses. "I just wish I had a heater for my children,” Mohammed said. “We are all sharing the two mattresses, sitting very close together to keep one another warm."
Mousa, who lives with his family in Irbid, Jordan, used a piece of scrap metal to cover a broken window, protecting the family from the rain and snow. They have relied upon the generosity of neighbors who lent them a gas heater. He has already lost one child. “I need to protect the rest of my children, so we are ten people squatting around the heater.”
Other refugees, like Rafiq, have relied on firewood to keep them warm. But in the wet and cold, his family of six, who are living in an old warehouse, do not have sufficient wood. “I really just want to keep my family warm but as it is raining so heavily, all the wood is wet and I cannot use it for the heater."
CARE staff in Lebanon are doing a rapid assessment in north Lebanon and Chouf, as they prepare an emergency request for additional funds. In the interim, an emergency cash fund will be made available for immediate assistance for those most affected by the storm – for blankets, clothing, repairs to stoves and substandard housing.
CARE's Syria Response:
CARE's provision of life-saving services to Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and to people affected by the crisis in Syria has already reached more than 290,000 people. In Jordan, CARE provides Emergency Cash Assistance for refugees so they can pay for basic living costs, including rent, medication and food. CARE assists with vital information on how refugees can access further health, legal and social support and provides psychosocial assistance to women, men and children. CARE Lebanon repairs water and sanitation infrastructure, provides health education sessions, works with municipalities to improve water supply and sanitation infrastructure for refugees as well as for host communities. CARE Turkey is providing life-saving aid to refugees from Kobane, Syria.
Syrian volunteers, who are refugees themselves, are an integral part of CARE's Syria Response. Alongside Jordanian and Lebanese volunteers, they assist in organising and preparing distributions of relief items.
CARE has helped families in Jordan and Lebanon to prepare for and cope with the cold winter, distributing cash, heaters, fuel vouchers, blankets and floor mats. CARE Egypt has started raising awareness among the refugees of sexual exploitation and other forms of gender-based violence to protect them from any form of abuse. In Syria, CARE is partnering with local organizations, providing winter clothing and blankets for the winter, in addition to water and sanitation programming. Our support to families affected by the crisis in Syria is based on humanitarian needs alone, no matter which religion, political affiliation or ethnicity people belong to.
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. CARE has been working in Jordan since 1948. CARE Jordan has extensive experience working with refugees, providing livelihood training and opportunities, emergency cash assistance, information sharing and psychosocial support to Iraqi refugees since 2003.
Mary Kate MacIsaac: MaryKate.MacIsaac@jo.care.org; + 962 (0) 77 848 8747
Mahmoud Shabeeb: Mahmoud.Shabeeb@jo.care.org; + 962 (0) 77 840 3331«All Press Releases