Severe wintry weather worsens situation of Syrian refugee children, says UNICEF

Severe weather conditions across northern Jordan – including heavy rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures – have greatly worsened the situation of children among some 55,000 Syrian refugees living at Za’atari camp.

Widespread flooding has occurred, swamping tents and overwhelming the camp draining system. Deep mud is making it harder for the trucks delivering clean water to access the camp.

Several tented ‘Child Friendly Spaces’ where children can play and seek psychosocial support have been flooded, and a tent used to shelter unaccompanied children has collapsed.

In response, UNICEF and its partners are working around the clock to sustain the provision of services to the camp, and in particular, to ensure that all refugees have access to water, latrines and showers.

UNHCR, the Ministry of Public Works, and UNICEF partner THW are working to drain the affected area and to mitigate the effects.

UNICEF has distributed emergency warm clothing along with sleeping mats to replace mattresses soaked by the rain. Heaters have been distributed to families now living in prefabricated buildings within the camp.

UNICEF Jordan Representative, Dominique Hyde said: “Alongside the Government of Jordan and our other partners, we are doing everything possible to ensure services are maintained and that children stay warm and dry.”

Hyde added that lack of funding has been one major constraint. “The resources we raised in 2012 have been exhausted, and no fresh funds have come for this year. We urgently appeal to the international community and donors in general to commit fresh funding as soon as possible.”

The deteriorating situation at Za’atari comes amid a continuing influx of refugees from across the border. Since the beginning of January, close to 10,000 Syrians have arrived in Jordan.

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