Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, currently home to 30,000 Syrians who have fled recent fighting in the country. Some 75% of the camp's inhabitants are women and children. (Copyright: WFP/Jonathan Dumont)
Winter is here and in the camps housing Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, preparations are under way to help families get through the cold months ahead.
ROME/ZAATARI -- Temperatures are dropping in the Zaatari refugee camp, home to 30,000 Syrians who have fled the conflict in their country, looking for safety in neighbouring Jordan.
“It’s cold, unbelievably cold. My son has only a short sleeved shirt -- the clothes he had on when we escaped our country,” says Um Raed, a mother who has just arrived in Zaatari.
With no sign of a peace deal in Syria any time soon, the camp’s inhabitants may not be able to go home any time soon. It looks increasingly likely that they’ll be here all through the winter.
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As UN refugee agency UNHCR works to distribute blankets and fuel for cooking and heating, WFP is doing its part by providing a regular supply of food to the families.
"The temperature drops here as low as minus two or minus three [Celcius] sometimes, especially at night,” says WFP spokesperson Laure Chadraoui. “WFP is providing food to every family here in this camp. They can get a nutritious meal every day and it helps them fend off the cold."
Rice, wheat, pulses
During October, WFP transitioned from providing hot meals in Zaatari to distributing ‘dry’ rations that refugees can cook themselves. The monthly ration includes rice, bulgur wheat, pulses (yellow split peas), sugar and salt in addition to a daily bread distribution to the refugees.
UNHCR and WFP have set up over 100 communal kitchens around the camp to allow the refugees to prepare their own meals from WFP food basket. This will also help families vary their diets. One hundred more kitchens are still under preparation.
The 30,000 refugees in Zaatari are just a fraction of the Syrians who have fled their country in recent months and weeks. A total of 370,000 Syrians are believed to have crossed into Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
WFP has operations for refugees in all four countries. It is using a combination of food vouchers, traditional food distributions and hot meals in refugee camps. WFP is expanding its regional operation and is ready to provide food assistance to over 460,000 people in the coming few weeks.
Meanwhile, inside Syria, WFP is reaching about 1.5 million people monthly with food assistance. But the recent escalation of violence is making it more difficult to reach the country’s hardest-hit areas. Several WFP trucks have been attacked in recent weeks.
Latest reports show that food insecurity is on the rise due to bread shortages and higher food prices in many parts of the country