Alert over Syrian refugees' plight
Published 19/11/2012 | 00:53
More than 200,000 Syrian refugee children are facing a bitter winter of sub-zero temperatures without proper shelter and clothing, Save the Children has warned.
The aid agency is calling for urgent funding to provide refugee families with enough warm clothing to help them survive.
More than 2.5 million people have been displaced within Syria due to the continuing fighting, according to aid agencies.
At least 400,000 registered refugees are now in neighbouring countries, and the UN expects that figure to reach 700,000 by the end of the year. The true number of refugees is likely to be much higher, as many thousands are unregistered.
Many of the refugees fled their homes during the summer months and now do not have the clothes they need to keep them warm, the charity said.
Children living in camps in Iraq have nothing but the t-shirts and sandals they arrived with, while some in neighbouring Lebanon are sleeping on the cold concrete floors of abandoned schools and farm buildings.
Mike Penrose, Save the Children's humanitarian director, said: "As winter sets in, families are starting to take increasingly desperate measures to keep warm. In the Al Qaem camp in Iraq, children have told us that they haven't washed for more than two weeks because the water is ice cold.
"Unless we can help families get ready for the harsh weather ahead, we could see the weakest and most vulnerable succumb to the cold and associated diseases."
Mr Penrose added: "We're seeing thousands of families across the region, unable to pay for proper shelter to protect them from the cold, without even the basics like blankets or bedding to keep them warm when temperatures plummet at night.
"Many have no income, no home of their own, and no winter clothing - these families urgently need assistance if they are to pull through the coming months."