Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Winter Emergency 2020

Winter Emergency 2020

In winter, icy cold, muddy water can flood into shelters, damaging the precious few clothes and belongings of many families.
Updated May 2024



USD 211.3 million is needed to ensure that life-saving winterization assistance is in place before the often harsh and challenging winter season starts. For many, this will be the tenth consecutive winter in displacement, with families facing even greater hardships this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic impact.

There are over 10 million Syrian and Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. UNHCR estimates that 3.8 million people need timely and substantial help to properly prepare for the forthcoming winter.



1. Winter will leave many refugees vulnerable this year

Many refugees live in rented or shared accommodation, which are poorly insulated or maintained. Rents are often high, and not being able to make the payments, often makes them vulnerable to landlords. 

2. Savings, for those that had them, have run out

The crisis in Syria has been ongoing for over 10 years. Many refugees faced financial hardship for years before leaving their country. Now, without the ability to work.

3.  Temperatures in the Middle East can drop dramatically low

Although it may be hard to imagine in a desert, much of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq can get very cold. At night, temperatures can plummet below zero, leaving many refugees at risk. Together with powerful winds, some areas are also hit by snow and torrential rainfall, leading to floods. 

4. Poverty makes the winter more extreme

In Lebanon, close to 1 million Syrians live below the poverty line, many on less than US$2.90 per person per day – making it nearly impossible to cover food, health and shelter. 

5. This year, COVID-19 had made the need even greater

When the pandemic arrived and restrictions were put in place to contain its spread – it has threatened jobs and pushed households deeper into poverty. At the same time, conflict and insecurity continue in areas like northwest Syria, forcing more people out of their homes and into the cold. 


Last year in Syria, UNHCR supplied almost 2.5 million winter items – including warm blankets, plastic sheets, winter jackets, sleeping bags and winter clothing. Here, refugees share what is needed most. 

“It’s not warm enough in here. I make the stove drip slowly so that the diesel doesn’t run out quickly. Sometimes we get warm, then it gets cold. Sometimes we turn off the heater and other times, we cover up with blankets.” – Shakiba, Jordan

“I cry about my children, about my country, about my home that vanished, about my belongings.” – Um Bassam, Jordan

“When it starts raining, I worry. Where would I go? I have no relatives, no one but kind neighbours. I deal with this flooded water alone, what am I going to do? And the night is dark and cold.” – Koneh


Winter survival kit includes sleeping bag, thermal blanket, kitchen set and more to support a family of 5.  As the temperature is dropping below zero, we need to send survival kit now.

Gift Winter Survival Kit Now


The cold air chill them into their bones, sleeping on the cold hard ground is making it worse.  $4000 can provide 10 families of 5 sleeping bags to have good night sleep this winter.

Gift Sleeping Bags Now


Refugees and displaced families were forced to leave everything they owned behind.  The comforting thermal blanket at least keep them warm for the freezing winter.  $3000 can provide 10 families of 5 with thermal blanket.

Gift Thermal Blankets Now


At subzero temperature, warm food is more important than ever to regain strength.  $1800 can provide 10 families with basic cooking ware.

Gift Kitchen Sets Now


Families are forced to flee at subzero temperature, jackets keep them warm on their way to safety.  $1500 can supply 10 winter jackets for someone in need.

Gift Winter Jackets Now



“The winter months are long and hard. There is an immense amount of cold, and so many refugees who are already in very vulnerable positions, are forced to make difficult choices. We provide winter cash assistance, to help them purchase warm winter clothes and pay for heating, but there are many families that struggle to keep warm.”

Shang Mosa, Senior Field Assistant, Iraq


“Winter assistance continues to be essential and life-saving, particularly for those who have recently been displaced. High thermal blankets, winter clothing kits for kids, and winter coats for adults are critical to helping families stay safe during the cold winter months.”

 Marguerite A. Nowak, Senior Sector Coordinator Shelter and Non-Food Items, Syria


This year, the added strain of Covid-19 has made many families extremely vulnerable. The winters here are very cold, and many refugees are in shelter that is poorly insulated. Without winter cash assistance, they will struggle to survive the winter months. Utilising the helpline as well as new modalities such as mobile money, at UNHCR we are ready to respond to refugees needs this winter.

RashaBartarseh, Associate Cash Based Intervention Officer, Jordan.