Refugee Stories

Refugee mother prepares for another winter in Za’atari refugee camp

Haifa hangs her children’s damp clothes on a washing line strung between two shelters, knowing that the laundry will take hours – maybe days – to dry in the frigid air, and that’s if it doesn’t rain. But she can’t afford to dry them over the stove. She rations the precious little fuel she has left between cooking hot meals for her four daughters and keeping them warm at night.

Haifa Syrian refugee

This is the reality of winter for Haifa, a 42-year-old Syrian refugee living in Za’atari refugee camp, who was forced to flee her hometown in Syria after the death of her husband. She traveled with her daughters for days until they reached safety in Jordan. “It was raining, and it took us around fifteen days to get here because of the rain,” she remembers vividly. 

Six years after escaping war, rain is still a worry. The shelter often leaks. “The girls feel the cold, because the shelter and the windows still leak in the winter.”

Across the Middle East and North Africa region, there are nearly 10 million refugees and internally displaced people, mostly from Syria and Iraq. Of these, 4 million people like Haifa are in urgent need of assistance to survive the harsh winter months, especially when temperatures plunge below freezing at night.

It’s a tense time for Haifa, and she’ll keep worrying until she knows whether the family will receive winter aid. “This winter will be tough,” she admits, although she’s not concerned about herself. She has to stay positive for her daughters. “The only thing I think about is how to take care of them.”

Haifa's family

This winter, the UN Refugee Agency’s is delivering essential winter supplies like heaters, fuel, thermal blankets and winter clothing as well as shelter weather-proofing kits to help those forced to flee their homes withstand the worst of the weather. Warm clothing for the snow and freezing temperatures is especially important for young children who may have outgrown last year’s clothes. 

For Haifa, winter clothing is the most important thing. “I would sell our food to buy them clothes. I cannot leave them without coats,” she says firmly.  

Here’s how you can help…

Just $128 can help us provide winter kits for displaced families in urgent need this winter. Each kit includes blankets, warm winter clothing, mattresses and a protective tarp to ensure refugees and displaced families get the help they need this winter and beyond. Together, we can provide warmth and kindness to those who need it most.

Dec 9 2020
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