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Giving thanks for donor support

USA for UNHCR donors save lives and give hope to millions of refugees around the world

Khaled, 45, a Palestinian refugee displaced from Syria, and his wife Samira, 38, a Syrian refugee, sit on the floor of the apartment they share with their family in a substandard building in Barelias, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season quickly approaching, USA for UNHCR wants to pause to thank the compassionate supporters who stand with refugees every day of the year. Through their generosity, donors do more than provide food, shelter and protection. They offer hope. They remind our world’s most vulnerable people that they have not been forgotten. 

This Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family, please use USA for UNHCR’s materials to engage in conversations about the refugee experience. Download the Friendsgiving toolkit here that includes recipes from refugee culinary traditions, place cards that include an additional name of a refugee and their story, and conversation starters to understand the experiences of people forced to flee.

During this winter season, the help and hope that donors provide are especially needed as more than 11.8 million Syrians and 3.9 million Iraqis who fled violence and persecution brace for the cold. Many live in makeshift shelters that risk flooding, leaks and collapse from rain and heavy snow. Unprotected refugees risk frostbite, pneumonia — even death. But thanks to USA for UNHCR donor support, the UN Refugee Agency is on the ground helping women, men and children stay warm and safe this winter.

Here are a few of their stories.


Samira and Khalid: Seeking shelter

Syrian refugee Samira, 38, holds her six-month-old niece Mona alongside her husband Khaled, 45, a Palestinian refugee displaced from Syria, on the floor of the apartment they share with their family

Soon after they were married in Syria, newlyweds Samira and Khalid’s home was struck by a missile, and they fled for their lives. 

“When your house collapses, you can’t think of collecting any items before you leave, you just run away,” Khalid says.

The couple and other family members escaped to Lebanon and took shelter in a windowless, unheated building with no sanitation facilities.

“When your house collapses, you can’t think of collecting any items before you leave, you just run away.”

Thanks to USA for UNHCR donor support, the UN Refugee Agency installed windows, insulation and plumbing to create a safe environment for the family, including Samira and Khalid’s six-month-old niece Mona.


Naima and Saad: No escaping the cold after fleeing violence

Naima, an internally displaced woman from Hawiga, smiles as she speaks to UNHCR staff with her youngest and eldest sons, Mohammed and Emad, in Al-Alam camp

Like millions of their fellow Iraqis, Naima, Saad and their three young children faced escalating violence at home. Two of their family members were killed in a landmine explosion. Saad suffered hearing loss.

Naima and Saad knew the only way to save their children was to flee, so they made a perilous journey on foot through the Hamreen mountains — eventually reaching safety in the Al-Alam camp in Tikrit. Now they are protected from harm, and with donor support, have received blankets, kitchen items, mattresses, hygiene kits and a heating stove to help them this winter.


Khaled and Najat: Struggling to keep their little ones warm

From left, Syrian refugees Khaled, 35, Yehya, 3, Najaf, 41, Nadia, 12, and Nawfa, 11, pose for a photograph in their shelter at an informal settlement near Terbol in the Bekaa Valley

Fearing their family’s safety, husband and wife Khaled and Najat and their five children fled Homs, Syria in 2012 for Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. As they ran for their lives, there was no time to pack anything, including winter shoes and clothing. Although they are grateful to Lebanon for welcoming them, the winters are difficult — especially for the children, including the youngest, three-year-old Yehya.

 “If they’re warm and they go outside to shower or to use the restroom, they come back and they’re already sick,” Khaled explained.

The family receives cash assistance from UNHCR to help them pay for heating fuel as well as a kit to weatherproof their shelter.

Syrian refugees Yehya, 3, sits on a tricycle in his family's shelter at an informal settlement near Terbol in the Bekaa Valley

Here’s how you can help …

As you reflect during this season of gratitude, consider helping refugees as they brace for another brutal winter. The most efficient and cost-effective way you can save them is by becoming a monthly donor. Your steady support will keep our world’s most vulnerable people warm during these crucial winter months — and every day of the year. Please make your gift today.

Nov 21 2017
TOPICS News Iraq Syria
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