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Syria: Millions at risk as winter tightens its grip

16 Jan 2015

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December 2014, Damascus, Syria: Palestine refugee children try to keep warm in the winter cold at Jaramana Temporary Collective Shelter, Jaramana Camp, Damascus. Credit: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad.
 
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The winter storm that swept through the Middle East has had a significant humanitarian impact, particularly on internally displaced persons.

The winter storm that swept through the Middle East has had a significant humanitarian impact, particularly on internally displaced persons.

As winter conditions worsen, displaced people – especially those sheltering in tents, unfinished buildings and other informal dwellings – will be further exposed to illnesses associated with cold weather.

“Winter has brought more hardship to Syrians already struggling to find safe shelter and ways to feed, clothe and protect their families from illness and exposure to risk,” said Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Yacoub El Hillo.

$70 million still needed

In October of last year, in anticipation of the coming winter, the UN and its partners launched a US$206 million winterization plan, targeting 3.3 million people inside Syria.

As part of this plan, UN agencies as well as the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and NGOs, have been able to distribute winter supplies – including blankets, winter clothing, fuel and cash – to hundreds of thousands of people across Syria.

However, the winter plan remains underfunded by US$70 million. On 15 January, Humanitarian Coordinator El Hillo announced an allocation of $4 million from the Syria Emergency Response Fund to bolster aid efforts.

“After four years of crisis, people’s ability to cope is extremely stretched, and the needs continue to grow. Though the international community has been generous, funding has not kept pace in the face of growing needs. Additional funding is urgently needed to enable humanitarian actors reach more people with winter assistance in time,” said El Hillo.