Winters in the Northern Hemisphere are bitterly cold, with temperatures dropping well below freezing. Refugees and displaced people need support to survive these harsh conditions.
This year, millions of people who’ve fled conflict or persecution in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria will face an extremely difficult winter.
After months or even years of displacement, many families have nothing left and are living in flimsy shelters or damaged homes. As winter approaches, their suffering will increase. Soon, they will face difficult choices between food or warmth.
Ukrainians will face their second winter at war. Millions have been uprooted from their homes or are living in damaged houses and enduring power outages.
Vitali and his mother Halyna were at home when a missile struck their village near Vinnytsia Oblast.
He doesn’t remember much, except for the sound of an enormous explosion and a bright flash of light. Glass from the windows crashed down on top of him.
“The sight was shocking. We couldn’t really understand what had happened,” Vitali says.
Thanks to your generous donations, UNHCR replaced the doors and windows of Vitali’s house. This will help keep the cold out during Ukraine’s bitter winter months.
UNHCR has identified 900,000 displaced and war-affected people in Ukraine in need of urgent assistance this winter. The situation is especially tough on vulnerable groups, including the elderly and people with disabilities who may be living in buildings ill-prepared for winter.
“In Ukraine, there will be millions of people who will be living still in damaged homes, without electricity, without access to jobs and who will be dependent on cash assistance to cover the costs of heating in their houses. They will need help to repair and insulate their homes in order to stay there and stay warm,” says Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine.
Abdul Jalil* and his family fled to Bamyan Province in Afghanistan during the war.
Last winter was very difficult. He was unable to heat their small home and his children were constantly sick.
Abdul lives in constant fear that their landlord will evict them, as they cannot pay the rent.
Bamyan Province is one of the highest and coldest regions in Afghanistan, and many families struggle to afford food or fuel to heat their homes.
Winter poses serious threats for displaced families, especially those living in tents, damaged shelters or poor-quality housing with little protection from the cold. Respiratory diseases increase during the cold season, especially among children.
With your support, UNHCR can help refugees and displaced families weatherproof their shelters before winter begins. Our dedicated teams can also distribute cash assistance along with winter essentials such as blankets, solar lamps and other basic household items to help families survive.
*Name changed for protection reasons
When fighting broke out in Syria, 82-year-old Um Hisham made the difficult decision to stay in her hometown of Alleramon.
"I have chosen to stay because my home is all I have in this world,” Um Hisham says.
As she enters another winter in Syria, access to electricity, fuel and food is diminishing as temperatures plummet. Many vulnerable families are unable to buy warm clothes for their children or get fuel to stave off the cold.
This winter, people in Syria and across the Middle East desperately need heating, clothing and medicine. UNHCR estimates over 15.3 million people will need humanitarian assistance in the region.
Um Hisham, along with other families in Alleramon, has received winter relief items from UNHCR, including blankets and winter clothes. But they need more support to get through the toughest time of the year.
With your support, UNHCR can provide families with winter essentials such as warm clothing, thermal blankets and gas cylinders. Your donation can also provide winter cash assistance, helping the most vulnerable refugees purchase essentials such as medicine and heating.
Please donate today to give refugees and displaced families safety and warmth this winter.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.