Mafraq, Jordan, 15 October 2012 – UNICEF is accelerating plans to help children and families displaced by the Syria crisis deal with the coming winter, in a region where temperatures can plummet close to zero degrees Celcius.
Winter conditions emerged as a major issue during a meeting at Za’atari refugee camp yesterday between community leaders and visiting Executive Directors from UNICEF National Committees in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Refugee leaders voiced concerns about the impact of the cold temperatures on families who fled Syria wearing summer clothing and are living predominantly in tents, along with the effects of rain and strong winds. Around 30,000 Syrian refugees – half of them estimated to be children – are sheltering at the tented camp, located in a desert area of northern Jordan.
Around 1.2m people are currently displaced within Syria, while more than 300,000 have registered or are awaiting to register as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
“UNICEF is stepping up plans to help refugees in northern Jordan cope with the approaching winter, which will be particularly harsh for younger children,” said Dominique Isabelle Hyde, Representative UNICEF Jordan. “UNICEF’s response includes warm clothes for children, hot water for showers, and winterised tents for child protection spaces and schools.”
All 90 WASH centres at Za’atari camp are to be roofed, along with the provision of hot water for 450 showers. UNICEF will replaced the existing Child Friendly Spaces tents at Za’atari and nearby facilities with winterised double skin tents featuring raised floors. Classroom space at nearby Ramtha has already been expanded with the provision of 15 pre-fabricated units. UNICEF is also moving forward with winterization plans in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.
“The needs are immense and growing, not just in Jordan but in Syria and neighbouring countries,” said David Bull, Executive Director of the UK National Committee. “UNICEF staff and partners have been working tirelessly to keep up with the increasing numbers of refugees and to provide essential basics for children like schooling, child protection, water and sanitation. Our job now will be to help raise the funds UNICEF so desperately needs to keep helping children.”
During their visit to north Jordan, the Executive Directors, David Bull (UK), Gerard Bocquenet (France), Christian Schneider (Germany), and Jan Bouke Wijbrandi (Netherlands), saw firsthand UNICEF’s emergency responses in education, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene. They also met with refugee community leaders, saw the UNICEF-supported drilling for water that is going on near Za’atari, and received briefings from UNICEF staff in Syria and Lebanon.
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