Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Bitter Winter Bites for Displaced Syrians

Families have been suffering through rain and snow with minimal heating supplies.
By Ahmad al-Salim
  • Children suffer during icy weather due to a lack of winter clothing. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Children suffer during icy weather due to a lack of winter clothing. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • Most children do not own winter shoes and are forced to brave the rain and mud in slippers. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Most children do not own winter shoes and are forced to brave the rain and mud in slippers. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • Children laugh as they receive donated winter clothes. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Children laugh as they receive donated winter clothes. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • Humanitarian agencies distribute fuel to those displaced in Idlib’s countryside. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Humanitarian agencies distribute fuel to those displaced in Idlib’s countryside. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • The cold weather makes it hard for displaced people to meet basic needs. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    The cold weather makes it hard for displaced people to meet basic needs. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • Living conditions for the displaced families are squalid. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Living conditions for the displaced families are squalid. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
  • Freezing conditions make life in the camps extremely hard. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)
    Freezing conditions make life in the camps extremely hard. (Photo: Ahmad al-Salim)

Freezing winter conditions have made the last few months particularly difficult for displaced Syrians living in camps in Idlib’s countryside.

Winters in the region are bitterly cold, with plenty of rain and snow. As temperatures dropped, people battled to clear the snow off their tents. They had no firewood to keep them warm or to bake bread, and water supplies turned into ice.  

“This winter has been very harsh,” Ibrahim, an elderly resident of the Al-Karama camp told Damascus Bureau. “We have struggled to keep warm. Many of us have been forced to send our children out in search of firewood,” he continued.

“The dirt roads inside the camp are covered with mud and ice, which makes it difficult for us to go out in search of basic commodities such as food.”

Other refugee camps around Idlib, in Hama’s northern countryside and along the Syrian-Turkish border suffered similar conditions.

Some relief was provided by an initiative called A Touch of Warmth in which the Qatari Red Crescent donated diesel to hundreds of displaced families currently taking refuge in Idlib’s countryside.

“The campaign came as a response to the dire weather conditions the region was suffering,” campaign supervisor Ubayda al-Rifai told Damascus Bureau.

“It covered 33 villages which are home to more than 6,500 displaced families from villages in Sahl al-Ghab and Hama. We also distributed winter clothes to these families to help keep them warm.”

Damascus Bureau’s Ahmad al-Salim visited these camps and took the photographs featured above.

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