Conflict has changed every part of Syria over the past six years, including winter. Any happy memories of snow filled streets and fields are now gone. Forced to flee their homes and live in camps and shelters offering little protection from the cold, winter is a real struggle for children in Syria.
“I couldn’t play with snow because I don’t have clothes that are thick enough. All my winter clothes were in our house that was destroyed by shelling,” 10-year-old Mustafa.
He and his family live in a tent in Northern Syria. Earlier this year two snow storms hit the region, burying the camp in which they live and collapsing tents on top of families.
The threat of heavy snows hangs heavy over families across Syria. In the south of the country, Abu Noor told us of his experience,
“Every winter we struggle with the tent’s roof falling on our heads because of the snow. Yesterday when the roof fell again, we stayed with our neighbours in their tent.”
Years of long term unemployment caused by the conflict mean that families savings are running low, forcing parents into making impossible decisions.
“My two daughters fell ill all the time. I cannot afford to buy them clothes and pay for their health care all at once,” says Khadija, a widowed mother in Damascus.
In rural Homs, our team met Abdulrahman, a young boy out of school and trying to help his family get by.
“My parents don’t have enough money to buy me new clothes and my father doesn’t work because there isn’t work for him. I help him plant some vegetables in our yard that we sell and eat from.”
Asked why he wasn’t in school he added,
“I used to go to school wearing old worn out clothes, sometimes even torn. I used to be very ashamed of going to school wearing them.“
Abdulrahman’s story is not unusual. School attendance drops in winter months – especially when schools are not kept warm.
In October 2016 UNICEF delivered 5,000 sets of winter clothes for children to the town of Kafar Laha, one of the hard to reach areas in Syria.
Abdulrahman and his siblings all received winter clothes. Happy he told us,
” Now I can go to school without being ashamed and even if the classrooms don’t have heaters, you won’t care if you are wearing thick and woollen clothes and you’ll be able to study well,”
With winter snows coming soon UNICEF is on the ground right now delivering winter kits to over 800,000 children. More than 320,000 especially vulnerable children will be given e-voucher assistance. Schools and safe spaces across the country are being provided with heating fuel to keep them open and warm.
Please donate today to help keep Syrian children warm this winter.