UR­GENT AP­PEAL: help Syr­ian refugee par­ents like Khi­tam to pro­tect their chil­dren through the win­ter.

Khi­tam lives with her four young chil­dren, hus­band Ab­del­salam, and his el­derly par­ents in a sin­gle, damp room of a half-built apart­ment block near Tripoli, Le­banon.

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“Liv­ing here, in these con­di­tions, I can­not keep my chil­dren healthy.”

There are holes in the walls and ceil­ing and they share a toi­let with other refugee fam­i­lies crammed into the build­ing.

Khi­tam and Ab­del­salam are men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­hausted af­ter years of strug­gling to sur­vive, un­able to earn a liv­ing and fight­ing a daily, re­lent­less bat­tle to feed their chil­dren.

Right now, they are ter­ri­fied by the prospect of an­other win­ter in their cold, unin­su­lated sin­gle room. An­other win­ter where they will feel every blast of icy wind. An­other win­ter where every time their chil­dren cough or sneeze they will fear they have con­tracted a lethal res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tion like pneu­mo­nia or tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

UN­HCR, the UN Refugee Agency, needs your

sup­port to help par­ents pro­tect their chil­dren this win­ter. Please will you give £75 to pro­vide a refugee fam­ily like Khi­tam’s with a win­ter sur­vival kit to pro­tect against the freez­ing weather?

The kit con­tains es­sen­tials such as a heat­ing stove, ther­mal blan­kets and a tar­pau­lin for in­su­la­tion. It could mean sur­vival for a fam­ily like Khi­tam’s.

Last win­ter, as a re­sult of their ex­posed and un­san­i­tary liv­ing con­di­tions, Khi­tam and all four of her chil­dren be­came ill. Baby Bi­lal had a high tem­per­a­ture and di­ar­rhoea. Her sons Khaled (3, pic­tured) and Ab­dul Rah­man (8) had chest in­fec­tions and their sis­ter Fa­timah (4) con­tracted worms. Khi­tam her­self de­vel­oped painful growths on her throat and lost her voice. With­out ac­cess to a free health­care sys­tem like we have in the UK, Khi­tam be­came over­whelmed with worry about how to pay for the treat­ment and medicines her chil­dren needed.

“I felt help­less. My chil­dren were cough­ing and cry­ing and there was noth­ing I could do.” Khi­tam be­lieves that with­out as­sis­tance from UN­HCR “my chil­dren would be dead”. Across Le­banon and Jor­dan, six of the last seven win­ters have brought heavy snow­fall and tem­per­a­tures reg­u­larly drop be­low 0°C.

1.7 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees are liv­ing, like Khi­tam’s fam­ily, in un­fin­ished or derelict build­ings, or in makeshift shel­ters, some­times made of lit­tle more than wood and plas­tic sheet­ing.

This com­ing win­ter, when tem­per­a­tures are likely to fall be­low zero, the lives of the most vul­ner­a­ble: young chil­dren, preg­nant women and the el­derly, are at grave risk from hy­pother­mia, frost­bite and dis­eases like pneu­mo­nia.

With a gift of £75 you can pro­vide a win­ter sur­vival kit con­tain­ing a stove, blan­kets, jerry can and a tar­pau­lin to help a fam­ily in­su­late and heat their home. Please give to­day – you could save the lives of chil­dren like Khi­tam’s.

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