Notes From the Field

Donors help provide homes for Syrian refugees in Greece

When air strikes hit their town in Syria, Omar and Banan Mustafa and their children were forced to flee their family home. Their search for safety took several years, as they traveled to other parts of their country, over the border into Turkey and then to Greece, reaching its shores in February 2016.

The Mustafas spent their first winter in Greece at Nea Kavala, a former military camp serving as a temporary accommodation site for refugees. Their shelter was a drafty, leaky canvas tent that provided meager protection from bitter winds and rain.

"When we were in a tent, rainwater could get inside and we were always panicking."

Thanks to committed donors, the Mustafas have four solid walls to call home again — a prefabricated structure they moved into in October.

It didn’t take long for Omar and Banan to make their new accommodations cozy and comfortable for themselves and their children. Omar built an outdoor kitchen with tools he and a fellow refugee purchased together.

“We are a big family. If we made the kitchen inside, there would be no space left for sleeping,” Banan explained as she sat in the larger of their two rooms, which are separated by a wooden partition and shelves that Omar also made.

She cleaned and filled the rooms with the family’s few belongings, UNHCR-supplied mats and thermal blankets. “The difference is huge,” said Banan. “First of all it is much warmer now. This morning it was raining again and it was the first time when we did not feel it.”

As the days grow darker and colder, the UN Refugee Agency continues to distribute the lifesaving relief items that refugees and internally displaced people need to survive. For those without prefab housing like the Mustafa’s, plastic tarps and thermal insulation will keep tents warm and dry. Thermal blankets, mattresses, sleeping bags, heating stoves, fuel, warm clothes and shoes will also protect against below-freezing temperatures.

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With violence displacing families from Syria, Nigeria, Iraq and around the world, more and more people are fleeing their homes every day, which is stretching UNHCR’s resources to the limit. But thanks to USA for UNHCR donor support, the UN Refugee Agency can remain unwavering in its commitment to protect children, women and men at risk this winter — and help them feel safe, secure and warm.

Your help is needed…
There is a severe shortage in the funds needed to protect vulnerable families like the Mustafas from winter’s below-freezing temperatures, winds and storms. Your gift will help close the gap for families like them around the world. Please be generous.


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Dec 3 2016
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