Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are some of the countries where most of the Syrian refugees have taken shelter from 2011 when the Syrian Civil War broke out. Many people have been displaced within the country itself and many have taken shelter in several neighboring countries across Europe and the Middle East. The crisis is considered to be one of the biggest humanitarian emergency of the present era.
Refugees living in camps face several difficulties and unemployment is a major issue for the vast majority. The unrest has already made life even harder for them as they were already struggling due to poverty and hunger. The sheltered refugees in Iraq are also struggling with the financial burden led by the COVID-19 virus. They barely manage food and most of the time depend on food aid and help from others. But before the pandemic, the situation was different. They had work. Some of them could afford a little bit but since the lockdown in the camp, it has stopped. This is a common scenario among the refugees, most of them have lost their jobs inside or outside the camp after the lockdown.
The struggle doesn’t end here. Another challenge is ahead for the refugees, the harsh weather of winter. Lebanon’s Abu Fares is a refugee camp where the refugees face challenges due to winter and rising prices. The refugees fear the brutal winter as most of their tents had worn out as they were established a year ago many refugees claimed they want a permanent solution. In 2019, UNHCR has started distributing tents and isolation materials for the refugees as a part of the winterization process. It has further planned to distribute one thousand winter tents and covers in these temporary settlements, but these are too little assistance considering the vast population. Syrian Refugees in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon suffer from extreme weather events such as heavy rain and snow, high winds, and very cold temperatures in winter. The region is often affected by the winter storm along with snowfall that makes them more isolated as accessing this area becomes hard. According to a report due to extreme cold in winter last year, an eight-year-old refugee child died and around three hundred refugees had to be relocated when there were heavy rain and snow including a sub-zero temperature.
Heavy snowfall causes their tents to be collapsed. Often, tents leak water. The winter assistance is scarce according to the needs. Often crowd management in distribution points becomes hard to handle refugees. So, they are bitten and treated harshly. One refugee claimed that aid is distributed for the camera to show the world. Another Syrian refugee said,
“ We are dying of hunger, cold, and humiliation.”
The refugees had to wait days to collect from the distribution points. There are cases of harassment and mismanagement during the distribution of assistance. According to refugees the distributor has stored the aid in the warehouse but won’t give it to them. Only forty to fifty families will have it rest will get nothing.
Despite all the problems, UNHCR is trying its best to help these people assisting millions who have been displaced inside or outside Syria. It is providing necessary aid and life-saving supplies including medical care. Although Recently, it has distributed winter supplies such as warm clothes, thermal blankets, stoves, and many more winter essentials to them. According to the Syrian Refugees the host countries are deliberately giving them hard times as they want them to return to their homeland which is unsafe for their families. Life is more uncertain in Syria. Houses are also destroyed. So, despite the distress, worry, and harassment the refugees can’t return to their homeland.