All of us at USA for UNHCR would like to extend our gratitude to our compassionate and generous donors who continue delivering aid and hope to the world’s most vulnerable families. Your support and kindness brightens the lives of millions of refugees in their hardest times.
This winter, donor support will be especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have pushed millions of refugees deeper into poverty and debt this year. A new World Bank-UNHCR report published this week estimates that approximately one million Syrian refugees and 180,000 internally displaced Iraqis have fallen below the poverty line since the onset of the crisis. This comes in addition to UNHCR’s staggering figures of at least 3.8 million people across the Middle East - many entering their tenth year in displacement - who require urgent assistance during the winter months. But with the support of our USA for UNHCR donors, refugee families will continue to receive warmth and protection this winter.
These are some of their stories:
Shakiba and her husband fled war in her hometown in Syria six years ago. Today, the elderly couple lives in a flimsy tent in the mountains of northern Lebanon, where they experience heavy snow, rainfalls and freezing temperatures during the winter months.
“When the bombing and violence started, some fifteen people from my family died. We were afraid and we fled,” says Shakiba. “I spent two years burning old clothes and shoes in the heater to get warmth. Sometimes we ended up coughing, sometimes we got sick… only God knew about our situation.”
Last year, the couple experienced a near-death experience. A fierce blizzard swept across Lebanon and - after twenty days of heavy rain and snow - they had to be rescued from their shelter when it became blocked by a deep snowdrift. But thanks to the support of USA for UNHCR donors, this year the UN Refugee Agency is able to provide Shakiba and her husband with winter essentials - such as clothes, blankets and extra fuel for heating- and help them repair their shelter.
Iman was eight months pregnant with her oldest child, Bissan, when her family had to flee their hometown – a small city near Aleppo - to escape escalating violence. They found refuge in an old, run-down building in one of the poorest areas of Amman, Jordan, where the growing family has been living since 2014.
This winter, Iman and her husband, Hassan, are worried about keeping their house warm for the children as coronavirus restrictions are making it even harder to make ends meet each month.
“We don’t have a gas cylinder or water heater, and our heating methods are not very safe. We are afraid that the children might burn the house. Last winter, the house was old and moldy, now there is no sun entering the place except for one room,” says Hassan.
With USA for UNHCR donor support, Iman’s family will receive winter aid to cover the cost of winter essentials like a new heater, fuel and thick blankets.
Fearing for her daughters’ lives, Hanaa fled her home in Syria in 2013 soon after her husband was killed during a bombing attack. After a long journey, she found safe haven inJordan, where she now lives in a small two-bedroom apartment with her daughters Joudy and Lojain.
“During winter, I am always concerned about the girls falling ill as the treatment is very expensive and they don’t have warm clothes to go to school…I’m also concerned about not having electricity and gas for cooking,” Hanaa explains.
This year, the UN Refugee Agency will distribute winter cash assistance to approximately 30,000 vulnerable refugee families like Hanaa’s to help them cover basic costs like food, medicine and heating. With the money received, Hanna will also be able to buy used winter jackets and boots for her daughters to keep them safe during the coldest months of the year.
As you prepare for the upcoming year, you can help us protect vulnerable refugee families during this very challenging time. Your gift can help us rush shelter, blankets, coats and winter aid to Syrian families struggling to survive another year in exile.