Vulnerable communities and families without adequate shelter, living in damaged or incomplete buildings, are struggling to prepare for the expected low temperatures in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Since the eruption of violence in Syria, displaced people and refugees living in informal settlements, unfinished buildings, tents and on the streets have been experiencing annual winter conditions with limited coping mechanisms. The drop in temperature inevitably affects the most vulnerable. In many places, ad hoc shelters have flooded and families faced plummeting temperatures without heating or adequate clothing.

Although summer temperatures can reach 45 degrees Celsius in some areas, winter in Syria and surrounding countries tends to be very wet, with temperatures dropping below freezing for much of the season. Some regions even experience heavy snow, especially in mountain areas.

“From the past experience, we know that getting support to communities on time is vital. Delays now could mean the aid doesn’t arrive when the temperatures drop”, says Michael Higginson, head of IFRC’s Syria crisis team.

A total of seven million people are displaced inside Syria, and almost three million have fled across the country’s borders. Many families have been forced to move on more than once.

“Our aim is to provide winterization items to 50,000 families in the most vulnerable communities in Syria. This support includes mattresses, mats, and thermal blankets. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent will also distribute winter clothing from other agencies as part of the response. This support will also extend beyond the borders of Syria into neighbouring countries including Jordan, Turkey and Iraq,” adds Michael Higginson.

“These items may seem basic, but for people living in makeshift shelters, damaged buildings or tents they are vital. Millions of Syrians fled their homes with almost nothing, and as winter approaches, they will need support to survive.”