The latest frost is the ordeal of Syrian refugees piling up with the harsh winter wave
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned – in a statement – that with the Middle East experiencing 3 cold fronts this week and temperatures dropping below zero; Thousands of displaced Syrians will struggle to stay warm.
The committee – a non-governmental organization that aims to provide humanitarian aid and international development – said that 2.8 million people are still displaced due to the conflict in northwest Syria, and 1.7 million of the displaced (80% of them women and children) live in overcrowded informal camps and unfinished buildings. .
With temperatures reaching minus 5 degrees Celsius at night this week, frost, heavy rain and snowfall threaten to exacerbate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people living in temporary tents and in poor housing conditions.
Meanwhile, the current conflict along with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to destroy lives and livelihoods and hamper the humanitarian response, contributing to a devastating crisis in northwest Syria.
As humanitarian response teams struggle to scale up to meet the increasing levels of needs accompanying harsh winter conditions, these challenges will only continue to grow.
A study conducted last October showed that 61% of the cement houses in 680 camps for the displaced in Idlib and Aleppo did not have roofs, and were covered with panels to protect against weather factors only.
Also, 85% of the “caravans” (mobile homes) needed waterproofing materials because they had already started leaking. In addition, more than 91,000 tents lack waterproofing, of which 42,000 were damaged and need replacement.
In another study conducted last year, it covered all the camps in the northwest; 157 fires were recorded, 302 tents were damaged as a result, and 611 camps were affected by natural disasters, which led to the destruction of more than 3,000 tents and affecting more than 248,000 people.
A refugee who was displaced with his wife and two children to a camp in northwestern Syria says that “because of the snow storm, the tent in which I and my family stayed was completely destroyed, and all our possessions were damaged. We lack all the necessities of life from proper shelter to sources of heating and food. urgent help.”
“The displaced Syrians have to decide whether to spend the rest of their money on heating their families or buying food,” says Tanya Evans, director of the International Rescue Committee’s office in Syria. “Every winter, their tents are damaged or torn by high winds, rain and snow.”
“In the past 24 hours, we have received reports of at least 30 informal settlements affected by the current storm. The Syrians burn literally anything they can find to light a fire to keep warm, and we are very concerned that they are exposed to fumes that could suffocate while sleeping or burn their tents,” she says. “.
With so many threats surrounding the region from ongoing hostilities, to fears of the emergence of a new Omicron mutant and the collapse of the economy; In its statement, the International Rescue Committee called on the international community to ensure that winter aid is funded in order to provide adequate shelter, safe heating sources and basic foodstuffs.
In its statement, the Commission also called on all parties to the conflict in the northwest to urgently fulfill their commitments to the ceasefire and to ensure the ability of humanitarian and medical personnel to respond to the humanitarian crisis in a safe, effective and timely manner.