What comes to your mind when you think of winter? Maybe you dread the cold temperatures that call for multiple layers of clothing to stay warm. Or perhaps, you look forward to it, because of the warm drinks, delicious baked pastries and more. However, for a set of people, the winter temperatures mean life or death.
Middle Eastern refugees who flee their homelands in search of better living conditions often have to deal with harsh winter conditions, without aid. What issues do they face? How hard is it for them to survive being displaced during some of the most dangerous temperatures of the year? This blog post will explore it. Let’s take a look.
The Middle Eastern Refugee Crisis
The Syrian civil war is one of the biggest causes of the middle Eastern Refugee crisis, displacing close to 70 million people. Neighboring countries find it hard to accept the influx of refugees, leaving them with very few choices — try to seek Asylum in Europe or the United States, or trek for months with very little food and shelter and at the mercy of the elements. Many refugees end up choosing the latter since many countries are closing their doors on them.
That’s where the problem happens. These millions of people leave their homes because their lives are in danger, and end up in even more perilous situations while fleeing. It seems like an impossible choice. Winters in Syria and surrounding countries can get as harsh as negative 20 degrees Celsius, with intense snowfall and freezing winds. Additionally, many refugees have to make their trek through sloping hills and arid mountains.
All these factors make the act of fleeing their homeland a deadly one. What are some of the issues that middle eastern refugees face during the winter?
Harsh Winters and the Refugee Crisis
The harsh winters in the middle east create a unique set of life-threatening problems for refugees on the run. They find themselves in impossible situations that even the most healthy humans would have a hard time enduring. Here are a few of them:
- Because of a collapsed health system, many refugees are in frail health even before they undertake the dangerous journey. Access to critical health care is limited in war-torn countries, and because of that many refugees aren’t healthy enough to withstand the journey before they leave, much less to do so in near-freezing temperatures.
- Food is scarce, so most refugees don’t have enough provisions to sustain them on their journey. Most people who become refugees have very little time to prepare for the trek, much less gather enough provision to carry with them on the miles-long journey. And even if they could prepare, they are often in no economic position to do so. Without food and enough warm beverages, they are especially susceptible to hypothermia. Over three million children in Syria do not have enough to eat.
- Young children can’t handle the harsh temperatures. Many refugees often have to flee with their young children, who often suffer in the harsh temperatures. Sadly many children die in the mountains because of the frigid weather. What this means is that many children die on the journey to safety, a heart-wrenching experience for their parents who were only trying to give them a better life.
- There isn’t enough aid to go around. Even when refugees manage to make it to a refugee camp, they still have to contend with living in freezing temperatures. Many refugees are living in informal settlements in shelters that are made of scrap iron and don’t have anywhere near enough heat to keep them warm in the winter. There isn’t enough aid being dispersed to assist all the refugees who need it.
With these factors in mind, it is easy to see how harrowing the reality of winter is for middle eastern refugees. Often with no choice but to flee in such harsh conditions, these refugees experience a world of pain and discomfort, even after leaving their homes. This begs the question, what can be done?
What Can Be Done for Middle Eastern Refugees?
Without help from aid organizations, the fate of refugees is uncertain. Since they are unable to provide for themselves in foreign countries, they often have to rely on help from organizations like Human Appeal Australia. In a news report from the UNHCR, they say:
“Additional funding would allow UNHCR to rapidly scale up activities across key sectors such as protection, shelter, and the provision of basic aid, helping up to 1.8 million people.
Part of the urgent funding requirements both inside Syria and in neighboring countries will go towards preparing UNHCR’s winterization response, to ensure that vulnerable families…receive adequate support well before winter arrives. We estimate that 1.3 million vulnerable refugees are in dire need of essential winter support – the costs of which amount to US$96 million.
This would be especially devastating for refugee families in Lebanon and Jordan, where some 68 and 85 percent respectively live below the poverty line. Funding would enable over 456,000 refugees to continue to pay rent, meet daily needs and maintain access to essential services such as healthcare.”
With this in mind, donating to Human Appeal Australia is one of the easiest ways to contribute to helping refugees in need. Click here to help middle eastern refugees in time for winter.