Displaced families in northwest Syria resort to burning unsafe materials to keep warm in the winter

Syria Ismail Winter

05 January 2024


With the onset of winter and the rainy season, the suffering of those displaced in Syrian camps is exacerbated, marking the twelfth consecutive year of war and life in miserable conditions.

At the beginning of every winter, I gather small pieces of old car tires to operate the heater when it gets really cold, ignoring that the smell emanating from it could cause health problems to me and my family,” said Ismail*, a displaced father of six living in northwest Syria.

With fuel being unaffordable or inaccessible, many families resort to burning unsafe materials, such as plastic and nylon, to keep warm during the cold winter months.

Ismail was displaced from his hometown in the northern countryside of Hama eight years ago due to the conflict. Since then, he has been displaced several times while trying to escape the indiscriminate bombardment until he settled in a camp in a small town in Idlib.

I have spent many sleepless nights in fear of a sudden bombardment,” said Ismail. “I have spent long hours worrying about the future of my children, my wife, and my relatives.”

Syria Ismail Winter Money

Ismail* is supported by CARE and Violet organization with winterization cash assistance, a project funded by the European Union. ©4K Production/CARE

Every year, as the winter approaches, we brace ourselves thinking about the lack of means for heating, the muddy roads, and the anticipated flooding of the tents when it rains or snows,” said Ismail.

Ismail is supported by CARE and its Syria partner, Violet organization, with winter cash assistance under a grant funded by the European Union.

More than 100 families live in the same camp as Ismail under extremely harsh conditions. Last winter, a little baby not more than 30 days old reportedly died of the cold during the frosty month of January.

Syria Aid

A team member of Violet Organization explaining to a group of camp residents in Northwest Syria the registration process for winterization cash assistance. ©4K Production/CARE

Following the recent escalation in northwest Syria in early October 2023, the number of displaced people spiked again. Over 120,000 people were displaced in two weeks following the hostilities of October 2023. The population of internally displaced people in northwest Syria is estimated around 2.9 million people, with 80% of those being women and children.

How CARE and partners are supporting people in Syria

CARE and Violet Organization, funded by the European Union, provide cash assistance to families like Ismail’s to prepare for winter by providing means to buy items such as protective sheets, heaters, and winter clothing. So far, CARE and its partners have reached around 5,000 people with winter cash assistance. With funding from the European Union, we also provide multipurpose cash assistance throughout the year to more than 60,000 people to help them secure their most basic needs, including food, blankets, and cooking utensils.

Main image: Ismail* with his young daughter inside the camp they live in Northwest Syria ©4K Production/CARE

* Name has been change to protect identity

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