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Syria’s children are desperate for help to survive the winter

PUBLISHED: 10:44 06 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:44 06 December 2016

Yahya - a Syrian child at a refugee camp in Iraq

Yahya - a Syrian child at a refugee camp in Iraq

Archant

It is the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

On 13 September 2016 in the western part of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Shahed, 5, and her friend set up a tent on the roadside.On 13 September 2016 in the western part of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Shahed, 5, and her friend set up a tent on the roadside.

And tens of thousands of Syrian children – many homeless and besieged – are facing yet another long winter with scarce defence against the elements.

As violence continues to escalate across Syria, the number of children living under siege has doubled in less than a year. Nearly 500,000 children now live in 16 besieged areas across the country, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid and basic services.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), has issued a direct appeal to EDP readers to help them provide warm winter clothes and blankets to help Syrian children survive.

“For millions of human beings in Syria, life has become an endless nightmare – in particular for the hundreds of thousands of children living under siege,” said Unicef executive director Anthony Lake.

“Children are being killed and injured, too afraid to go to school or even play, surviving with little food and hardly any medicine. This is no way to live – and too many are dying.”

Justin Forsyth, Unicef deputy director, added that places like eastern Aleppo were in a “desperate situation”.

“Children aren’t only malnourished, they’re also being bombed, doctors are running out of medical supplies,” he said.

“The most injured children they now have to let die because the medical supplies are so low.

“There are 250,000 people trapped in eastern Aleppo, 100,000 of them children, and they are running out of supplies.

“They can’t leave because there isn’t a ceasefire, and they’re on the brink of a very severe situation. Water, food, medicines are all running out. Children are being killed.

“Hundreds of children have been killed in Aleppo in recent months and people are giving up hope.”

Some communities have received little to no aid in nearly two years. In eastern Aleppo alone, Unicef estimates that 100,000 children are living under siege.

Many more have left their homes and are living in makeshift camps across the border.

The Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said: “The refugee crisis across the world leaves most of us feeling helpless because the scale of the problem is so huge.

“The most tragic stories are of child refugees, weary of the world at a young age, having seen so much suffering.

“Unicef offers us a chance to help them. I hope many will do so, and bring fresh hope to shattered lives.”

£3 could provide a warm winter blanket for a Syrian child.

£12 could help provide hats and gloves for 4 children.

£34 can help provide a complete winter supply kit for a toddler – including a warm coat, thermal hat and gloves, and sturdy winter boots.

£135 could help 40 children continue their education with Unicef’s school in a box.

To donate to the Unicef Syria appeal, visit unicef.uk/edp

Winter brings bitter cold to refugee camps

Unicef worker Isobel Dumont, from Bury St Edmunds, has been visiting the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq, where she met little Yahya, two.

“Their first winter in the camp was bitterly cold and they lived in a flimsy tent – with no water, heating or electricity – that was frequently torn down by harsh winds,” she said.

“Now they live in a shelter with walls and a floor and while it’s better, it still can’t protect little Yahya from the sub-zero temperatures that will soon grip the region.

“During my time in the camp I was struck by how intensely vulnerable the children are at this time of year.

“Cold and hunger mean young immune systems are under constant attack – so children are frequently unwell. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what freezing temperatures can do to a child who is already poorly.

“Yahya’s loving family only want the best for him, but he already suffers from recurrent lung problems and other health issues caused by the cold and dirt.

“And with no way out of this desperate situation, his family faces a struggle to protect him from the elements this winter.

“Now, as winter approaches with bitter winds, heavy snow and temperatures as low as -5ºC, Syrian children are relying on our kindness to keep them safe and warm.”

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