Syrian refugees: Out in the Cold

2012-12-05 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) More than 200,000 Syrian children – many with little more than the clothes they fled the fighting in - are at risk from cold and disease, according to Save The Children.

The charity is calling for urgent funding to be made available to prepare refugees for winter and ensure that children and their families have proper shelter and enough warm clothing, warm food, hot and clean water, blankets and heating fuel to survive the cold months.

Without this support, winter could leave thousands of refugees facing serious health problems, such as hypothermia and chest infections, that could prove deadly for the youngest, the elderly and the most vulnerable.

And as Rouba Khoury, director of Save the Children's Lebanon Office told Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni, more funds are urgently needed to help families survive the winter....

listen to the interview...

"We’re already on the ground in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, responding to the needs of the most vulnerable and now are focus is helping families get ready for winter".

Painting a dire picture of the situation, Rouba Khoury, says that as winter sets in, families are starting to take increasingly desperate measures to keep warm, and are in need of basic necessities such as fuel, shoes and blankets.

Khoury quotes "Out in the Cold", a new report published this week by Save the Children that documents the desperate steps that children in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan are taking to survive increasingly bitter weather in the region, with snow and sub-zero temperatures expected to hit many areas int he coming weeks.

The report also points out that "the international community needs to match its diplomatic and security concerns with funding to help children. Unless there is a surge in funding, thousands of children are going to spend a bitter winter without proper shelter from the cold, and many will become sick as a result".

Khoury explains that in Lebanon some 400,000 Syrian refugees are living in tents, barns, unfinished shelters that are ill-equipped to provide protection from the cold. Many - she says - fled with only the clothes on their backs and the sandals they were wearing at the time.

She explains that in Lebanon governement policies do not allow for the setting up of refugee camps, and high rents are preventing families finding or keeping adequate shelter. One group of refugees in the Beka'a Valley is facing freezing temperatures in shelters constructed from tarpaulins.
Save the Children is calling for urgent funding to provide refugee families with enough warm clothing to help them survive. The charity is working within Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, providing support to thousands of children who have fled to neighbouring countries.

To do this the agency has launched an appeal to help fund its work. For how to give a donation or for more information www.savethechildren.net