In the Middle East and Afghanistan, a humanitarian disaster was looming in the winter of 2021/2022. Weakened by conflict and crisis, hundreds of thousands of children had nothing to protect themselves from the freezing cold. Each day was a struggle for survival. UNICEF was on the ground providing urgently needed aid.
In Syria, after more than 10 years of war, 6.7 million people live as internally displaced persons, almost half of them children. With nothing more than the clothes on their backs, they live in makeshift shelters or tents with holes in them, barely protected from the cold, snow and rain.
In neighboring Lebanon, the population is suffering from a devastating political and economic crisis. Poverty has doubled in just two years, with 82 percent of the population now living below the poverty line. Their despair is great: every day, families have to decide whether to spend what little money they have on warm clothing, heating fuel, food or urgent medical treatment.
Afghanistan has been in an even worse crisis since the Taliban retook power. State structures are only functioning to a limited extent. Winters, especially in the mountain regions, are severe. Poverty-stricken families cannot afford extra fuel for heating, schools are closed, respiratory diseases are increasing and people’s health is suffering. Families who have fled are having a particularly hard time.
What UNICEF has achieved thanks to your help
Four-year-old Rashid (also pictured above) explores the contents of UNICEF clothing packages with his grandmother Alia, at Fafin camp in a rural area to the east of Aleppo, Syria. In 2018, Rashid’s family fled the escalating violence in Afrin, north of Aleppo, and undertook a day-long journey on foot to seek refuge at the camp. “Since we’ve been here, we haven’t been able to buy a single piece of clothing,” Alia says. With this in mind, the family is even more pleased to receive the donation.
Sadya, a 10-year-old Afghan girl, wraps a warm blanket around her little sister, 10-month-old Sherin Gul. They received these and other relief supplies such as jackets, pants, boots, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and buckets from UNICEF.
Brothers Yamen (13, left) and Yousef (12, right) explore the contents of their clothing package at the Alzhouriyeh refugee camp in a rural area in eastern Homs, Syria. “I can’t wait to put on my new clothes and go to school in them,” Yamen says. “Finally I have warm boots to go to school in,” says Yousef.
The siblings have been living with their family in the Alzhouriyeh refugee camp for two years now. During this time, they have never been able to afford new clothes. Because the family is poor, they frequently don’t have enough money for heating or food, which means the children have to go to sleep hungry and cold and often get sick as a result.