Since the conflict erupted in March 2011, Syria has witnessed unprecedented devastation and displacement. According to the UN, more than 5 million Syrians have fled the country and 6 million are internally displaced. With more than 13 million people in need of assistance, the conflict has caused untold suffering. Displaced families face harsh weather conditions during winter, compounding their already dire humanitarian situation.
Tearfund Ireland is continuing to work with local Christian partner, MERATH in areas where refugees are receiving little outside help, to improve families’ overall living conditions. We are providing for basic needs such as food, cooking utensils, stoves, blankets, mattresses, hygiene materials and medical supplies. We are also helping partners offer psychological support to those who have been traumatised and scarred by their ordeal.
The response was focused in the Syrian governorates of Homs, Hama, Tartous, and Lattakia, in relatively secure (regime-held) areas that attract large numbers of people seeking safety. Support is provided through local churches who know the needs of the community and visit households regularly to assess the need and effectiveness of the aid provided. As well as distributing blankets and stoves, the project also explored the provision of cash-based support as a more dignified assistance, so as to provide cash for fuel and winter clothing.
Challenges have been significant: sporadic mortar and missile attacks on Damascus have resulted in delays in the delivery of supplies, and the stove supplier and blanket supplier were forced to flee with their families during the worst of the violence.
KEY OUTCOMES DURING 2017/2018
- By supporting families in meeting their immediate winter needs, the Winterization Project reduced their state of vulnerability.
- This project assisted 2,655 households (13,275 individuals) through distributions of 2,100 warm winter blankets, 224 heating stoves, and cash for winter clothing and heating fuel.
- 100% of survey respondents said the project helped them in meeting their winter needs with the majority of those surveyed (60%) reporting that the project assistance covered half, more than half, or “a lot” of their winter needs.