Gearing up for winter
Race against time to provide Syrian children and families life-saving winter assistance
Children and their families struggle to cope amid the ongoing conflict, continued displacements, the unprecedented economic crisis, deepening poverty, and unemployment. The hike in price of commodities triggered by the global energy crisis and the impact of sanctions are further compounding the dire situation.
The harsh winter with freezing temperatures and heavy rains will make things worse. Scarcity of fuel and lack of means for heating will make it extremely challenging for many people to make ends meet.
For families with children, living in urban slums where housing infrastructure has been destroyed and where there is high level of displacement and poverty, fending off the cold let alone providing for their children’s basic needs becomes a surmountable task.
Significant numbers of Syrian families similarly continue to reside in makeshift tents in overcrowded displacement sites, especially in northern Syria. Due to climate change, winters are getting harsher making it extremely difficult for water truckers to navigate the streets of the camps for the internally displaced during heavy snow falls in northwest Syria. This is further worsening the prevailing vulnerabilities.
The suffering of the children across Syria will only get worse, and the impact of the winter will be felt long after the cold temperatures recede if action is not taken immediately.
UNICEF’s winter response underway, more funding needed
In January 2022, prior to the energy crisis, UNICEF’s assessment indicated that money families spent on fuel for heating was a massive burden on their budget. Families were also increasingly resorting to negative coping mechanisms to meet their basic needs, including cutting on food intake and living on credit. Since then, price of fuel and basic commodities have skyrocketed. As a result, many Syrian families will be unable to cope with the upcoming winter and provide warm food and clothes for their children.
To support vulnerable children and mothers and provide them with lifesaving assistance they so desperately need before winter and the cold sets in, UNICEF launched its winter response in August 2022.
Female-headed families, families with children with disabilities or orphan children living in urban slums affected by high level of displacement and destruction of housing stock are being identified and registered so that that they can benefit from UNICEF’s upcoming winter response.
Once registered, families will receive three rounds of cash assistance, one round every two months during the winter season. In addition to this, all families will be accompanied throughout the winter by a dedicated social worker who will help families and children with special needs access services they require.
In northwest Syria, UNICEF will continue connecting camps for the internally displaced to nearby sewage and water networks. Desludging septic tanks, maintenance, and construction of latrines as well as distribution of water tanks will help to enhance access to good sanitation during winter.
In addition, UNICEF and partners will provide fuel for heating and heaters in schools and learning spaces, fix and insulate windows to provide children an opportunity to continue learning amid the harsh weather conditions.
To reach more than 200,000 highly vulnerable people and children in urban slums across Syria during the upcoming winter; to provide 175,000 people with lifesaving water, hygiene, and sanitation interventions as well as 120,000 school-aged children with critical education support in the northwest; UNICEF requires US$ 6.13 million for its winterization activities.