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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs