The coming winter is the latest threat to children affected by crises in the Middle East. As UNICEF races to provide warm clothing, winter supplies, and blankets before the cold sets in, the organization is facing a $60 million gap that could leave up to 1.5 million children exposed to the cold.
Freezing temperatures, storms, and heavy snowfall will compound the many hardships faced by families affected by conflict who are already struggling to survive with the bare minimum across Iraq, Syria, the State of Palestine and neighboring refugee host countries. Many have been displaced by violence and live in camps or makeshift shelters, with little protection against the piercing cold.
Families’ resources are completely depleted from years of conflict, displacement, and unemployment, making the purchase of warm clothing and heating fuel unaffordable. If schools are not kept warm, dropout rates are expected to rise.
“Without help, the cold could be yet another harsh blow to vulnerable children in the region who have already been through so much,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Children’s health is weak from undernutrition, poor healthcare and displacement. Hypothermia and respiratory infections are a serious threat – if left untreated, children will die.”