Warmth. Comfort. Safety. That’s the life-changing support you’ve given families forced to flee conflict in northeast Syria.

“We feel relieved,” says Lazgeen. The 25-year-old Syrian has been displaced several times throughout his young life. Most recently, he fled to Iraq with his wife Maha and their baby daughter Meera.

“Despite the hardship, at least we are safe here. Even now in times of distress, when I look at Meera or play with her, I feel relieved and alive.”

The world was shocked once again when an escalation of violence near the Turkish-Syrian border in October forced hundreds of thousands to flee. People travelled for days to reach Iraq as they fled amid shelling and fighting. The majority were women, children and the elderly. All were in desperate need of shelter, water and food.

Thanks to the generous support of Australians like you, UNHCR was able to rush life-saving aid to the field.

Maha, baby Meera and Lazgeen look through the family wedding album – one of the only things they were able to take when they were suddenly forced to flee their home in Syria. © UNHCR / F. Al-Khateeb

When they arrived, families were given hot meals, medical care, water and basic aid items including mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans.

In northeast Syria, you helped deliver core relief and winter items to more than 185,000 newly displaced people. In Iraq, you helped provide new arrivals with safe shelter, core relief items and winter supplies such as thermal blankets and kerosene heaters.

However, the struggle is far from over. Dropping temperatures and rain in both Syria and Iraq are adding to the suffering of those living in makeshift settlements.

These families have already been through so much. After fleeing with barely any of their belongings, they are in dire need of warm clothing and blankets to protect them during the harsh winter.


Thanks to your support, UNHCR is on the ground distributing essential items and safe shelter, but more help is urgently needed. © UNHCR / F. Al-Khateeb

When Amina arrived at Bardarash camp, she was exhausted after trekking for hours to cross the border into the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The 64-year-old was among the 15,500 people — mostly women and children — who found safety in Iraq. Now she is worried about the approaching winter. 

“What are we going to do when the winter arrives? If it rains, the situation will be even worse. I hope water will not enter my tent. I’m afraid. I have no one here.”

You can help refugees like Amina stay warm as the winter closes in
Donate now

In addition to those newly displaced from northeast Syria, UNHCR estimates that 3.8 million Syrian and Iraqi displaced people need urgent help to survive the winter. For many, this will be the ninth consecutive winter away from home.

Our teams on the ground are working around the clock to help those in need. UNHCR staff coordinate winter relief distribution points across the region – in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Teams are working to reinforce and insulate families’ shelters and improve the drainage and infrastructure in refugee camps.

Grandmother Amina, 64, found safety in Iraq but is now worried about surviving winter in a tent. © UNHCR / R. Hussein Rasheed

In Bardarash, fear over the arrival of winter was shared by a single mother caring for her two young children. Nadira, 25, spent a winter under canvas during the early years of the conflict, when she was displaced from her home in rural Aleppo, so she knows what to expect.

“I know that winter in a tent is hard, and the weather here is harsh,” she said.

“I am concerned that my children may get sick. Several times a night they wake up and tell me they are cold, so I cover them up [with more blankets].”


“When we first arrived at the camp, they gave us blankets, mattresses, insulation mats, a heater and kerosene.”

“In the morning when we wake up it is already cold, but I don’t want to waste the kerosene. I know that soon, it is going to get colder.”

Your gift this Christmas can help provide:

  • thermal blankets, plastic sheets and winter clothes
  • shelter weather-proofing and repairs
  • seasonal cash assistance to help families cover the cost of heating

Thank you to those who have already given so generously. If you haven’t yet, please donate now to help us reach even more families who have lost everything.

Please give generously this Christmas and
help refugees families survive the freezing winter months


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