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 Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More