Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever

In many areas in Syria, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade. Snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures have affected especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters.

This winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade in many areas in Syria. Snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures have affected especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters.

Photo: Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022 – Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures.

IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced. 

Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said:

“Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures.

“The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.”

Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said:

“Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response.

“We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.”

Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people.

SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave. 

In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them.

Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement.

According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years.

To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity.

For more information:

In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812
In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, rahaf.aboud[email protected], +963 959999853

Read more:
IFRC Syria Country Plan

For the editors:

About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent:

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance.

About the IFRC:

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.

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