News / Middle East

    Winter Poses Deadly Risk for Syrian Children

    A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, rests at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atmeh, near the Turkish border, Nov. 5, 2012.A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, rests at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atmeh, near the Turkish border, Nov. 5, 2012.
    x
    A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, rests at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atmeh, near the Turkish border, Nov. 5, 2012.
    A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, rests at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atmeh, near the Turkish border, Nov. 5, 2012.
    Henry Ridgwell
    Hundreds of thousands of children who have fled the fighting in Syria are at risk from cold and disease as winter approaches, according to aid agencies. There are fears that scores of vulnerable children could die in the makeshift camps that litter the border regions in countries like Lebanon and Iraq.

    Outside the family's tent in the Domiz refugee camp, northern Iraq, Nawar's seven sons and daughters play with fellow refugee children.

    Inside, Nawar and her two friends talk with growing fear over the coming winter months.

    A thin sheet of plastic is all that protects the refugees from the deepening chill of the desert. Nawar's story is typical of the more than 20,000 Syrians who have fled to Iraq.

    She says "We are from Damascus in Syria. They bombed our house, everything was destroyed. We had to go somewhere - there was nowhere for us to live there. So we ran away and came here."

    The family has lived in the camp for several months. But the coming winter will be their first. One of Nawar's friends - who did not want to be named - voiced fears for her family's health.

    She says "My husband died in the fighting. I have five small children and they are already in a very bad condition and there is nothing we can do, no one who can help. We don't know what to do."

    An estimated 2.5 million people have fled their homes in Syria because of the fighting. Around 400,000 are registered as refugees in neighboring countries including Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

    But it is those living outside the camps who are drawing most concern. VOA visited refugees sheltering in a disused school in Lebanon's mountainous border with Syria last winter. The only source of warmth - a charcoal stove that kicks out choking fumes.  The refugees sleep on the concrete floor.

    There are dozens of makeshift shelters like this dotted along Syria's borders. The lives of 200,000 refugee children are at risk in the coming months, says Ruba Khoury, Lebanon country director for aid agency Save the Children.

    "Most of the areas have snow during winter. Their houses don't have windows, some of them don't have doors, they don't have fuel for heating which is very expensive in Lebanon and especially for people coming from Syria as Lebanon is more expensive. Most of the children who arrived came in summer clothes, they have just T-shirts and shorts and flip-flops," said  Khoury.

    Aid agencies have launched appeals for extra funding. Khoury says the need to get help to the refugees is urgent.

    "Save the Children is asking everybody from the local communities to the international community to the international donors, to contribute and to be able to respond to the needs of the children in the areas surrounding Syria. Because if we don't do it now, it will be too late. Winterization has already started, winter is here, the cold is here, long nights," she said.

    Since last winter, tens of thousands more refugees fled their homes in Syria for an unknown future over the border. For the most vulnerable, the coming months will be a test of survival.
    • General view of damaged buildings after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet fired missiles at Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 23, 2012.
    • A Syrian man walks in front of his house during heavy rain in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 23, 2012.
    • Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as gunfire is heard, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from Turkey's Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • Syrian refugees in the northern Syrian town Ras al-Ain run to cross the border fence into Turkey during gunfire, as seen from Turkey's Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • This Shaam news network image shows residents carrying the bodies of men activists say were killed during shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Damascus, Syria, November 22, 2012.
    • Syrian army soldier prisoners stand near ammunition after Syrian fighters took over the military base in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • Syrian fighters stand guard in front of a destroyed building at a military base they took over from the Syrian army in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • A girl sits on a railway track as she looks to cross the border fence from Ras al-Ain into Turkey, November 20, 2012.
    • Turkish soldiers take up position at the border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, November 20, 2012.
    • Residents walk near buildings damaged after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Damascus, November 19, 2012.
    • Syrian fighters celebrate the victory on top of a tank they took after storming a military base in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • A rebel fighter prepares to fire a homemade rocket towards a Syrian air force compound on the outskirts of Aleppo, November 17, 2012.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ron from: Canada
    December 02, 2012 1:07 PM
    The world will not help and put an end to this war??
    The only reason being is fear. Fear that the entire region will be dragged into one huge major conflict involving the USA , Britian , France , Russia and China but most important Iran. Nobody knows the power of this heretic state and what they will do to western powers. Defeat by Iran is the major fear of the USA.
    This and only this is why nobody will help.
    This war could be ended in a single day with the proper bombing of Assad. It would be over...?
    But we continue with the false political jargon knowing full well the west is in fear , fear of the power they may lose.
    Disgusting the lives of children that must pay.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.