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Why This Winter Is the Harshest Yet for Syrian Refugees

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The situation worsens as these Syrian refugees and similarly impacted refugees from other countries struggle to earn income. Trapped politically and economically, they find themselves struggling to cover their basic needs.

Floods, fires, and a still-raging pandemic amplify the struggle for Syrian refugees struggling to make it through winter.

Compounded complications make it easy to lose hope. These refugees, already suffering from inadequate shelters in subzero temperatures, also faced heavy rains that caused flooding, in turn leaving water damage on what little remained of their possessions. 

Forced to flee their homes for their own safety, leaving behind most of their belongings, they have lost more to mold, water damage, and wear and tear. It got worse when fires from unsafe fuel sources broke out in their camps, which are largely a community of tents. What wasn’t water damaged was burned, and what wasn’t burned is all that’s left. 

Syrian refugees put themselves at risk when they are forced to burn plastics and other materials that weren’t intended to become fire fuel. 

Too hot, too cold, too wet, all in the same winter. In the same camps. In the same pandemic.

A view of the tents at a refugee camp in Aarsal, a Lebanese town on the border with Syria, where residents do not have adequate shelters to withstand the harsh winter months. | Zakat Foundation of America photo

And dozens of countries have no plan to vaccinate refugees, according to the Washington Post, leaving these refugees and others at risk as the stateless seek havens. There are close to 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon alone, and tens of thousands of migrant workers and refugees of Ethiopian, Iraqi, Palestinian descent (among others), making up about a quarter of Lebanon’s population, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Lebanon.

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“One of the most concerning indicators of the impact of the compounded crises Syrian refugees have been facing in Lebanon is the sharp increase in the proportion of households living under the extreme poverty line, reaching a staggering 89% at the end of 2020, up from 55% only a year before,” said Lisa Abou Khaled, the spokesperson for UNHCR Lebanon, as cited in a Feb. 6, 2021, Business Insider report.

The situation worsens as these Syrian refugees and similarly impacted refugees from other countries struggle to earn income. Trapped politically and economically, they find themselves struggling to cover their basic needs.

That’s why Zakat Foundation of America invites all who have been blessed with warmth to give that blessing forward. Give winter aid to those most vulnerable.

Zakat Foundation of America is pledging 1 million tons of safe fire fuel this winter to Syrian refugees and others in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. The international humanitarian aid organization is also providing winter kits to the cold in Pakistan, India, Kashmir, and Nepal as they do each year. The nonprofit’s winter program also provides coats, gloves, hats, scarves, and other gear in the United States.

Spring is still more than a month away, and the struggling won’t stop just when winter is over. Help Syrian refugee families make it through their harshest winter yet.

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