02-12-2015 | Latest News , Middle East

Syria: Suffering escalating as winter looms

As the Syrian conflict approaches its fifth anniversary and the fighting and violence intensifies, the suffering is escalating.

While nearly four million people have fled the country, around 8 million are displaced within the country; many have been forced to move several times.

Beyond the fear of bombs or being caught up in crossfire, families are now having to face dropping temperatures as winter begins. 

Mother of six, Amina al-Saghir says: “I am so worried about winter.  Last winter was tough and we struggled.  My children are very sick because we have no heater, no covers, no mattresses, we have absolutely nothing.” 

Amina’s house is on the frontline, in an opposition-controlled district of Aleppo. The house has been damaged by shelling and much of the clothing and blankets they used to survive last winter have been destroyed. 

The family fled this home a few months ago but had to return.  Amina explains: “We only left for two weeks as no-one was able to give us shelter.  No one could take the children and how many we are.  We have left a couple of times but we can’t find somewhere to stay and we can’t afford to rent another place.”

Despite Amina’s husband injured knee during shelling in Aleppo, each day he and his children searches the neighbourhood for things they can burn for cooking and heating.  Plastic is often all the find to burn, despite the fumes.

While the ICRC is reaching millions with food, clean water and clothing, especially for children, the needs are overwhelming.   Amina’s family is part of some 4.8 million people in areas where humanitarian access is declining. 

Across the frontline, in government controlled Western Aleppo, Mohamad Bakari, 70, is scared of the coming winter. In nearly five years of conflict, he has been displaced three times.  “For the last two or three days I have felt like I am going to die. I live here only with my daughter. The flat is too cold. I cannot stand living here but I have no choice.”

Mohamad is living in the ruins of buildings on the outskirts of Aleppo where thousands of displaced people are trying to survive.  The only protection Mohamad has from the winter winds are plastic sheets provided by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.  “We use blankets but we cannot feel warmth even with the blankets. This is not a life. A grave would be better.”

ICRC’s Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini says: The humanitarian situation in Syria is catastrophic and deteriorating day after day. People are suffering. Temperatures are freezing cold. They have very few resources. Their needs are massive. We need better access to be able to help them. The situation is critical. »

Shotlist

Location: Various, Syria
Length: 5:26
Format: H264 HD mov
Production: Pawel Krzysiek & Nicola Fell
Camera: Various
Sound: Arabic & English
ICRC ref: AV394N
Date: Various November 2015

Copyright: ICRC access all

Location: Jabal Badro, Eastern Aleppo.
Date: November 2015

0:00 Child looking through rubbish and damaged buildings
0:14 Al-Saghir family looking through damage for rubbish to burn
0:23 Al Saghir’s damaed home
0:27 Al-Saghir boiling kettle
0:42 Al Saghir children immersed in smoke

SOUNDBITE Amina al-Saghir (in Arabic)
0:52 “I am very worried about the upcoming winter because last winter was tough and we struggled. My children are very sick because we have no heater no covers no mattresses, we have absolutely nothing. Our house was damaged in shelling and all our properties were destroyed.”

1:12 Amina cleaning

SOUNDBITE Amina al-Saghir (in Arabic)
1:22We wanted to leave. Actually we fled for only two weeks but no one was able to give us shelter… No one could stand the children and the crowd... We were displaced twice or three times we do not have another place to go and we cannot afford to rent any other place.” 

1:44 Al-Saghir’s children

Location Kishweh, Rural Damascus
Date: November

2:09 ICRC & Syrian Arab Red Crescent winter clothes distribution for children. Over 300'000 children will receive clothes this year 

Location: Riyadeh IDP shelter, Western Aleppo
Date: November 2015

2:48 Damaged buildings
3:04 Mohamad Bakari walking

SOUNDBITE Mohamad Bakari (in Arabic)
3:19 “Since two or three days I feel like I am going to die. I live here only with my daughter. The flat is too cold. I cannot stand living here but I have no choice because we are alone. No children or grandchildren, I am so lonely.

3:36 “I expect to die from cold. The death is always in my head. Each day I tell myself that this will be my last day. There is no escape. The cold is my problem. When I wake up I can’t go out of the bed I have a rheumatic pains in my hands. I cannot close them. I cannot wake until the warmth enter my body.”

4:17 “We use blankets but we cannot feel warmth even with the blankets. My back was cold all the night. So I put more blankets, the heavy ones. This is not a life. It was better if they closed the windows with stones. A grave would be better. This flat needs a heater but then I cannot work to provide diesel.” 

Location: Aleppo
Date: September 2015

4:40 ICRC team putting up protective sheets on buildings

Location: ICRC HQ Geneva
Date: December 2, 2015

SOUNDBITE: Robert Mardini, Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East, ICRC (in English):
5:07 The humanitarian situation in Syria is catastrophic and deteriorating day after day. People are suffering. They are facing a very bitter winter ahead. Temperatures are freezing cold. They have very few resources. Their needs are massive. We need better access to be able to help them. The situation is critical.

END 5:26

Duration : 5m 27s
Size : 396.5 MB
On Screen Credit: ICRC or logo

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