As winter sets in, essential supplies arrive for Syrian refugee children in Iraq
ERBIL, Iraq, 4 December 2013 – UNICEF has received its first shipment of winter clothing and shoes for Syrian refugee children in Iraq.
Two truckloads of supplies came from Turkey, which UNICEF will assemble into complete kits to be distributed in the refugee camps in northern Iraq.
There are about 208,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq – a third of them children.
"Preparing the camps for winter is our highest immediate priority," says UNICEF Communication Specialist Jeffrey Bates. "About 62,000 refugees have crossed the border since it opened on 15 August."
Most of them arrived with only the summer clothes they stood up in, Mr. Bates points out. "It gets very cold and wet in northern Iraq in the winter, and women and children are the most vulnerable to all the suffering that that implies," he says.
UNICEF's response, which includes reaching refugees who live in host communities as well as those in camps, is designed to ensure that about 70,000 children have basic supplies for the winter, in a region where temperatures can fall well below freezing.
In the coming weeks, UNICEF will distribute 50,000 blankets, 8,000 hypothermia kits to benefit 40,000 children, and warm winter clothes for 27,000 babies and children.
UNICEF is also working with partners to ensure that buildings such as schools are adequately heated. And as acute respiratory infections are set to increase during the winter, it will distribute health kits with essential medicine for treating childhood diseases.
"This package will ensure the survival of the most vulnerable Syrian refugee children with warm clothes, blankets, health care, warm bathing opportunities and access to warm learning spaces," Mr. Bates says.
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