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Syrian refugees forge solidarity to survive harsh winter in Jordan

Written by Paul Jeffrey in Amman (ACT Alliance)
January 17, 2013

As Syria’s civil war drags on, those who have fled the violence for neighboring countries face an increasingly difficult time surviving as winter storms bring snow and freezing temperatures to much of the region.

The United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told the BBC on January 14 that meeting the needs of the refugees was an “almost impossible” challenge with “no solution in sight” to the disaster.

More than 600,000 people have fled Syria, according to the UNHCR. More than half of those are in Jordan and Lebanon, where International Orthodox Christian Charities, a member of the ACT Alliance, is responding to the needs of thousands of refugees. The actual numbers may be much higher, as many refugees have yet to begin the registration process with the UNHCR agency.

With no official refugee camps in Lebanon and Zaatari the only one in Jordan, those fleeing the violence in their homeland are forced to find shelter wherever they can. Some cluster in makeshift tent encampments in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Others crowd into urban apartments in the region’s cities. Yet the hardships they have faced since their arrival have only deepened in recent weeks as some of the worst winter storms in 20 years lashed the host countries.

Souad Kasem Issa is a Syrian refugee in Amman, Jordan. Because they couldn't pay the water bill for their small apartment, the water was cut off, and she has to purchase water and carry it up the stairs. The family has received help from International Orthodox Christian Charities, a member of ACT Alliance.

Souad Kasem Issa fled Syria last year with her family to take refuge in Jordan’s crowded capital city, Amman. They stayed with friends for two weeks until they found an apartment to rent. Yet they quickly fell behind on payments. They couldn’t pay the water bill that got shut off, so now Issa buys water from a neighbor and lugs it up three flights of stairs so she can cook and help her family stay clean.

Like many refugees, if she’s evicted she faces a choice of moving to the overcrowded Zaatari Camp or moving back to Syria, though she’s not sure where they’d go, as the family’s house in Homs was destroyed in the bombing.

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