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Working to protect families through the winter

'Winter kits' are being delivered to families across Damascus
'Winter kits' are being delivered to families across Damascus

In mid-December, the first winter storms arrived in Syria and Lebanon, bringing high winds and freezing temperatures, and forcing the UN to cancel a planned airlift of food and winter supplies to Syria. Our locally based team is pressing ahead with plans to protect families against the harsh Syrian winter.

The harsh winter weather has left many families struggling to keep warm, particularly those living in temporary shelters or damaged buildings. As snow covers the ground, we have been busy distributing more than 500 ‘winter’ kits to families in Damascus and surrounding rural areas.

Every kit is packed with blankets, coats and warm clothes for children, and we hope to provide protection to the 20,000 neediest families. Nineteen year-old Malak now lives with her husband and two children in a basement along with many other displaced families. Speaking about the recent birth of her daughter in their underground refuge in Damascus, Malak says she “felt alone, far away from my mother and our home”.

Targeting Aleppo, Daraa and other vulnerable regions

Winterisation Syria

SOS Children will also deliver winter kits to displaced families in the Aleppo, Daraa and coastal regions, joining eight other international organisations who are on the ground in Syria.

As well as distributing clothing and non-food items alongside UNHCR personnel in Damascus, we have created child-friendly spaces. Here, children are encouraged to take part in craft and art activities, as well as games and story-telling. Allowing children to play and express themselves helps them deal with the trauma of living in a city beset by conflict.

Helping children return to school

This work follows autumn's successful back-to-school campaign. Engaging with more than 16,000 youngsters, SOS staff were instrumental in bringing many children back into the classroom after they had missed out on a year or more of schooling. Children have been attending lessons in shifts so that schools can cope with the extra demand. For the most needy families, we have also supplied youngsters with stationary, uniforms and registration fees.

For more information about our work in Syria or to give a donation, please go to our Syria Emergency Appeal 2013.