The State of Kuwait has generously contributed close to USD 8 million to UNHCR’s winter cash programme, a contribution that has helped around 25,000 vulnerable Syrian refugee families survive the freezing temperatures in Lebanon.
GHAZZEH, Lebanon – As the wet, cold temperatures set in in Lebanon’s mountainous regions, Syrian refugees struggle to survive the harsh weather conditions.
While many enjoy the snow brought by the winter months, this season only means increased suffering for thousands of Syrian refugees living in flimsy tents.
Fifty-year-old Gazwa Faisal Al Ibrahim fled her hometown of Raqqa in 2012 along with her four children, aged between eight and seventeen. The winter season is particularly tough on the refugee woman and her family, as it becomes increasingly difficult, and costly, to stay warm and dry.
However, with the money Ghazwa receives on an ATM card from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, during the winter months, she can afford heating her humble tent and buying other basic necessities for her children.
“With the assistance I received this winter, I bought blankets, clothes and house essentials,” the refugee mother explained.
Kuwait, which is one of UNHCR’s most generous donors in the region, has contributed nearly USD 8 million to UNHCR’s winter cash programme, benefitting some 25,000 vulnerable Syrian refugee families.
“May God bless them, and I hope they will continue supporting us. What more could we want from them?” Ghazwa said.
With the Syria crisis nearing its seventh year, refugees have depleted most, if not all, of their savings. A recent study found that over 70 per cent of the about one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line. And with limited access to income-generating opportunities, refugees are compelled to rely on assistance, even more so during winter months when expenditures grow to cover heating, clothing, and other costs.
Hatem Ali Muhammad, 46, his wife Aliya, and their seven children fled Homs four years ago. The three younger kids are now in school, and Aliya says UNHCR’s winter assistance has made a critical difference in their lives.
“We were in a deep well and came back to life… Thank God, may they [UNHCR] be blessed. They are helping us month after month,” Aliya said with relief. “With the aid we receive, we can pay for fuel and buy warmer jackets for our children,” she added.
The UN Refugee Agency aims to assist 178,000 highly vulnerable Syrian refugees through its winter assistance programme which runs from November 2016 until March 2017 and includes cash support, shelter improvement and distribution of in-kind items.
This type of assistance, to which the Government of Kuwait has generously contributed, has been a lifeline for vulnerable refugees like Aliya’s family, as it has helped them withstand the harsh weather conditions.
This was the latest of a series of vital contributions from the State of Kuwait aimed at providing assistance to the forcibly displaced. Since 2013, Kuwait has contributed over USD 340 million to UNHCR to support it in addressing the dire needs of those affected by the Syria crisis. The State of Kuwait has, indeed, been an important actor in the humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis, hosting three international donor conferences, and pledging a generous USD 300 million during the London conference in 2016, which it co-hosted alongside the UN and other donor countries.
UNHCR’s note: This story has been published in Arabic at: