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Displaced Syrians face brutal winter exacerbated by economic collapse, charity warns

LONDON: The majority of displaced Syrians face a harsh winter with inadequate shelter and not enough food, warned a humanitarian organization working in Syria and Lebanon.

Syria Relief said the already brutal winter is exacerbated by the country’s economic crisis, which has caused fuel and food prices to skyrocket.

Only 29% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Syria believe their current housing adequately protects them from winter conditions, according to a survey conducted by Syria Relief, which provides life-saving aid and humanitarian response in this war-torn country.

The number is higher, at 52%, for Syrian refugees living in informal settlements in Lebanon, according to Syria Relief’s survey of more than 1,000 people in Aleppo, Idlib and Lebanon.

About one in three respondents in Syria and Lebanon know someone who has died or developed health problems due to the cold.

Syria Relief Managing Director Othman Moqbel told Arab News: “All of us working in the field are very worried about this winter. “

He said: “There is a common misconception that Syria and Lebanon are hot, but during the winter months, especially up in the mountains where there are many camps for refugees and internally displaced people, temperatures drop. regularly up to freezing temperatures. Winter is one of the biggest threats to an internally displaced person or Syrian refugee living in a tent, as temperatures can drop to -10 ° C.

The collapse of the Syrian economy, which gets worse every year, makes the coming winter the most difficult yet, Moqbel said.

“Last winter, the UN estimated that 80% of Syrians lived in poverty. Now it is estimated at 90 percent. There are 13.4 million Syrians who depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

“In order to simply survive, millions of Syrians need fuel to light the stoves they use for heating. But it’s expensive, and the economy makes fuel harder than ever for many families to find.

“To afford the fuel they need to keep them from freezing to death, most families living in tents have to make sacrifices. Maybe they’ll go without food, maybe one of their kids will go without food, maybe they’ll all have to go without food for a few days.

Moqbel explained that Western countries, like the United Kingdom, could take measures that would alleviate the suffering of these Syrians.

“We would like the UK in particular not to cut its aid budget and ensure that more money is spent on displaced Syrians who are already among the most vulnerable in the world.”

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