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Harsh winter threatens the lives of millions of Syrians

25 Oct 2018
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As the cold weather season approaches, nearly 2.4 million women, children and men across Syria will struggle to get adequate warmth and will require targeted support. This includes tens of thousands of newly-displaced people, including those in displacement sites and open areas, those who have been displaced multiple times and for long periods and now live in sub-standard shelters, but also returnees and host communities.

People need sleeping bags, winter clothes, plastic sheeting, high thermal blankets, heaters and stoves. Although funding has been secured to assist approximately 1.9 million of the 2.4 million people in need of winterization support, a further US$33 million is urgently required to assist 500,000 additional people.

Despite the challenges, humanitarian partners continue their cross-border operations in an effort to reach the most vulnerable. The cross-border operation from Turkey has not only continued to reach hundreds of thousands of people in need each month, it has scaled up in recent weeks. This has been done to ensure prepositioning of humanitarian aid should there be a military incursion in Idleb, as well as to provide winterization support. Nearly 1,000 trucks with plastic sheeting, winter clothes and boots, heaters and stoves, are providing life-saving assistance to some of Syria’s most vulnerable. Smaller amounts of critical supplies also continue to be delivered into north-east Syria through al-Yarubiyah border crossing from Iraq.

In the first nine months of 2018, over 750,000 people on average each month were reached with food aid through United Nations cross-border activities. Sustained assistance is essential for those in need, providing both aid and supporting service delivery. The response in Syria is complementary; assistance from within and outside of Syria continues to be essential to ensure high quality access to people in need. Since 2014, these cross-border deliveries have made a real difference for millions of people who would otherwise not be able to meet their own basic needs.

Despite donors’ generous support, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria warned that the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan is still underfunded. “This puts limits on our work in Syria,” he said. And as winter approaches, the situation will worsen for millions of people. Across the country, over 13 million people continue to depend on humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million people are food-insecure internally displaced. Lack of sufficient funding will only increase civilian suffering. As of today, the appeal remains less than 50 per cent funded.

Photos: OCHA/G.Seifo