Amman, Jordan - A major snowstorm has hit the Middle East, posing a serious threat to refugee families living in tents, huts and half-built buildings. There are currently more than 3 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis and Palestinians in Gaza.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the freezing temperatures. Many refugees are living in flimsy tents or open concrete building sites with little protection against the elements, and lack warm winter clothing. Last November, two newborn Syrian babies were killed by the cold when a smaller storm hit Lebanon.
"This is a frightening time for the millions of children who are homeless in the Middle East. Temperatures are predicted to drop as low as -11 in some areas, and for small children living in tents or half built shelters, often without proper shoes or winter coats, this is a very real threat," said Save the Children Middle East regional director Roger Hearn.
"Save the Children and other aid agencies in the Middle East are trying to help vulnerable families and ensure they do not go through this alone. For many refugees, this is now their fourth winter without a home."
Save the Children is on the ground in all the affected countries - including inside Syria, where an estimated 7 million people are internally displaced - helping to protect children from the worst effects of this storm. Teams have been distributing blankets overnight and moving families to temporary shelters. They have also been preparing for winter by providing families in Lebanon with the means to insulate their temporary shelters, and giving out winter clothing kits to refugee children across the region.