In early January, a major winter storm system brought torrential downpours, strong winds, snow and freezing cold temperatures to 570 informal tented settlements in Lebanon.
For the thousands of Syrian families living in the camps, many of whom have already lost everything, these conditions spelt disaster. Tents and other makeshift habitation were flooded, while food stocks and furnishings were wiped out.
Fortunately, UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies responded to the situation immediately. With assistance from Lebanese authorities, the organisations acted quickly to pump water out of flooded sites, distribute winter clothes and bedding, and supply essential medical and hygiene kits.
The efforts of UNICEF were only matched by the selflessness of the children they were helping.
“If the pyjamas are not the right size,” 11-year-old Taslim said, “I’ll exchange them with my neighbour.”
Since the storm hit, 10,000 refugees have received vital humanitarian aid. Yet with more downfalls expected throughout January, 70,000 refugees in 850 informal settlements across Lebanon are at risk of being affected by severe weather.
For children already weakened by lack of nutrition and health care, cold, wet weather can prove fatal. Given the situation faced by their families, the work of UNICEF is crucial to their survival.
“Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Staying warm has simply become unaffordable.”
To protect these children, UNICEF is providing them with jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, socks, shoes, thermal blankets and other winter supplies.
And with over 1.3 million children facing harsh winters in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey and Egypt, the organisation is also working to reach them with winter kits, safe drinking water, sanitation, health and hygiene support, as well as cash assistance to help their families pay for heating fuel and other necessities.
If you would like to help UNICEF, you can donate here.