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In Syria and Neighboring Countries “winter puts Syrian families at risk of disease and death”


As another harsh winter season approaches in the Middle East, CARE International calls for the immediate release of further funding to support millions of people caught up in the conflict in Syria and in neighbouring countries.

“The current funding gap puts millions at risk of disease and death,” says Holly Solberg, Regional Director for CARE’s Syria Response. To date, the UN funding appeals to support Syrians in need (SHARP and RRP) have been only half way financed. CARE’s own appeal has only been funded 25 percent. “Many refugees cannot afford to buy heaters, blankets or winter clothes. Imagine living in a tent or unfinished building, without a heater or a blanket, with outside temperatures below zero degrees. This especially threatens the health of the elderly, disabled and children,” Solberg says.

According to recent estimates, a total of over 19 million people need assistance across the region due to the Syria Crisis. The upcoming winter is particularly threatening for the over 3 million Syrian refugees and the 6.5 million internally displaced people in Syria. For example, in Lebanon almost half of the 1.2 million refugees live in informal settlements, unfinished buildings, garages, worksites and warehouses, which provide no protection during the freezing winter months.

“If we can anticipate one thing in the Syrian crisis it is the upcoming winter season and the harsh conditions people will have to endure. While the international community can plan for this recurring event, we have not received sufficient funding to protect refugees from rain, snow and cold temperatures,” Solberg says.

Given the protracted nature of the Syria crisis, as well as emerging crises in the region and in other parts of the world, humanitarian funding has not been as forthcoming as needed. The recent escalation of violence in Syria and Iraq has exacerbated the already horrible and unacceptable situation millions of people are dealing with. In Turkey alone, more than 170,000 Syrians have crossed the border since mid-September, putting further strain on a country which already hosts over a million Syrian refugees.

“I spoke to a mother in Turkey, who has recently fled the violence in Kobane. Living in an unfinished building, she is very worried about the freezing temperatures her family will face in a few weeks. They fled without any winter clothing and have no means to pay for heaters or blankets,” Solberg adds.

After almost four years of conflict Syrians are running out of coping mechanisms to help them survive. “We are talking about people who have lost everything. Some refugees have recently arrived; others have fled Syria months and even years ago. Both newly arrived and long-term refugees are struggling more than ever to cope with inadequate housing, high debts and rising costs of living. Some women tell us that they are only eating once a day now in order to save money to provide their children with warm winter clothes”, Solberg says.

CARE has already started to help both refugee and host families in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to cope during the winter, distributing emergency cash assistance as well as mattresses, winter clothes and blankets. “CARE and other organizations are working hard to meet the needs of millions of refugees. However, more funding is needed now to meet the growing needs of refugees during the winter. We need to provide people with practical support now. We must not wait until we see news of people freezing to death or becoming seriously ill. That will be too late,” Solberg said.

About CARE:

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit


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