Homeless Syrian families at risk of freezing to death this winter, Syria Relief charity warns
Millions of displaced families are facing a freezing winter and many could die in the extreme conditions, a charity has warned.
Displaced Syrian families living in makeshift camps after being forced to flee their homes are at risk of freezing to death this winter.
The charity, Syria Relief, said 13.5 million people have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011.
In the north-western city of Idlib, two million people are homeless following clashes between Turkish-backed armed groups and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
As temperatures plummet, concerns are being raised about people freezing to death.
“Temperatures regularly drop well below freezing, and with ripped sheets and poor access to fuel to heat tents, many lives are at risk,” said Charles Lawley, Syria Relief’s head of advocacy.
“Every year, people freeze to death,” he added.
In an exclusive survey for i, 69 per cent of Syrian internally displaced people said their accommodation was not fit to protect them.
More than one in three (35 per cent) said they knew somebody who had either died or developed a health problem because of the freezing conditions.
A mother-of-11 named Hedla had to flee her home in Raqqa after it was hit by an airstrike and is now living in a refugee camp across the border in Lebanon.
She said: “I don’t know how we’re going to survive this winter, we don’t have any fuel or wood to burn to keep ourselves warm.
“My son goes through bins and brings back old shoes and we burn them in the stove to keep ourselves warm.”
Ali, a refugee who fled Raqqa when Isis took over, said he expects winter to be harsh and is worried for his children.
“We have nothing to sacrifice to buy fuel this winter,” he said. “We have blankets, when we’re cold we will bunch up beneath our blankets and be quiet.”
Adam Kelwick, an aid worker who regularly visits Syria, added: “Each winter since the start of the conflict, people have died from the combination of the poor shelter, lack of proper heating and the chilling cold weather.
“Although it hurts to say this, this winter is unlikely to be an exception.”
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