Wardah Alabdallah holds her two-month-old daughter Muna in the family's shelter in Azraq refugee camp, Jordan.
© UNHCR/David Azia
Location icon Jordan

What Syrian refugees really need this winter

Near-freezing conditions in Jordan make life even more difficult for refugee families – which is why UNHCR’s winterisation payments are so vital.

At the age of 74, most women in Australia have left the hard work of child-rearing behind them – perhaps enjoying grandparenting duties if they’re lucky.

But for Fandia, a Syrian refugee, life hasn’t played out that way. 

After fleeing her homeland and finding safety at Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, she is now the sole provider for her orphaned grandchildren. Daily life is a struggle, but in winter she has to find extra money to repair her makeshift shelter and buy essentials such as heating, gas and warm clothing.

“My concern is to provide warmth for the children and money for the expenses; there are a lot of needs,” she says.

Last year, Syrian refugee Fandia received UNHCR's winter cash assistance.
© UNHCR/Yousef Alhariri
Last year, Fandia used her winter cash assistance to repair her shelter and buy warm clothes for her grandchildren.

Za’atari houses 80,000 refugees, most of whom live in small, prefabricated shelters that can flood during the winter rains. Maintaining a comfortable temperature is also difficult as the shelters are poorly insulated.

This year’s situation is complicated by ongoing war in Ukraine, which has triggered global fuel shortages. The removal of subsidies in Jordan has increased electricity costs 150 per cent for consumers, placing even greater financial strain on vulnerable refugees. As in previous years, many will resort to burning plastic for warmth.

UNHCR plans to assist 391,400 Syrians refugees in Jordan with winter cash assistance. This includes around 121,420 people in Azraq and Za’atari refugee camps, and around 270,000 people in urban areas. UNHCR is also providing winter survival kits – including blankets, plastic tarpaulins and gas cookers – to vulnerable families.

The one-off winter cash payment is equivalent to around $520, helping Syrian refugees cover their extra winter needs.

Last year, Fandia says she survived winter thanks to the assistance of UNHCR.

“If I had not received the winter cash assistance, I would have been helpless,” she says. “I spent 100 Jordanian dinars [$216AUD] on shelter maintenance. We paid our debts. And I bought a gas cylinder and paid for gas refill.

“We thank those who helped us for their support.”

Donate now to give warmth and safety to women like Fandia.