Geneva- The international community, humanitarian organizations and rich countries are urged to take immediate action to help refugees and displaced Syrians in Syria’s northern camps as well as in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
The severe cold is expected to hit Syrian refugees, added the non-profit group, warning that it will leave them with catastrophic consequences, especially children.
United Nations organizations, particularly UNHCR and UNICEF, as well as the relevant regional institutions, including the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should work on refugee relief by taking action to minimize the damage, said the Geneva-based organization.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are living in tents that cannot cope with the cold and frosts expected to hit the camps, where children make up the largest part of the refugee population.
The poor infrastructure and lack of access to medical care and food are leaving refugee children in particular with a greater risk of severe cold.
Addressed in Arabic, English and French, the letters urged international and local humanitarian bodies working in host countries, as well as rich countries, including the European Union, the Gulf States, the United States and Canada to take action.
The situation in Syria’s refugee camps is very tragic, stressed Alaa Barghouthi, Euro-Med’s media coordinator, pointing out that this is the eighth year in which refugees living in camps are facing this bitter cold while lacking infrastructure and basic services such as heating and medical care.
Some camps in northern Syria need urgent assistance that cannot be delayed. Such areas include Deir Ballut camp, which houses about 850 families displaced from the Yarmouk camp and areas in southern Damascus, added Barghouthi.
UNRWA is also responsible for the thousands of Syrian Palestinians who have been displaced from their camps in Syria to the Syrian north, particularly the residents of the Yarmouk and Khan al-Sheheh refugee camps, stressed Barghouthi.
Even though UNRWA is mandated to provide services to all Palestinian refugees in the agency’s five areas of operations, it has not assisted those facing the biting cold in northern camps without giving reasons, stated Barghouthi.
At the same time, the other UN bodies have not provided any kind of relief to Syria’s Palestinians, because they fall under UNRWA’s mandate.
Refugees in the Deir Ballut camp have complained about the lack of heating and sanitation to face the expected cold and rains. Meanwhile, children’s lives are threatened by other dangers, including deadly insects, amidst reports of spreading diseases such as diarrhea.
In the past two weeks, refugees from the Deir Ballut refugee camp have organized sit-ins to demand basic services for their children, including water, health care and adequate shelter.
They are living in tents without basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation and are suffering from the lack of follow-up on chronic diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure. There have also been many cases of recent outbreaks of leishmaniasis in the camp, a serious skin disease transmitted through sandflies, and its treatment takes several months.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on all humanitarian bodies to unite their efforts and work to support refugees and the displaced persons in refugee camps inside and outside Syria in the coming months, stressing that hundreds of thousands of children will be freezing from the expected wave of cold.
Euro-Med Monitor also calls on the United Nations and the European Union to do more to secure the urgent relief needed to help refugees face the imminent cold.
The non-profit group also calls on all relevant bodies to protect the tens of thousands of refugees on the north-eastern Jordanian border with Syria and Iraq, who are at risk of starvation due to their lack of access to food.
It is noteworthy to mention that 2.6 million refugee children are in urgent need for access to health care or education according to UN statistics.