Afghanistan and Syria: race to save 3.3 million refugees from the freezing cold

Afghanistan and Syria: race to save 3.3 million refugees from the freezing cold
Afghanistan and Syria: race to save 3.3 million refugees from the freezing cold

ROME – A white Christmas does not mean celebration, warmth, serenity and abundance for everyone. For Syrian and Afghan refugees and displaced persons this will be another very long winter in which they will have to face snow, rain, frosts and very low temperatures. An even tougher struggle they face millions of children, the elderly, women and men who do not have a house in which to warm up, a hospital in which to take care of themselves, financial resources to buy warm clothes and to put a dinner on the table, often not even anything to cover themselves.

PEOPLE ON THE RUN. To bring aid to people on the run who are now at the mercy of winter, UNHCR launches the campaign “Make a kind gesture” which aims to raise funds to help the most needy refugee families to provide essential expenses for survival: rent, food, heating in the house, but also to provide them with winter clothes, shoes, blankets and everything else they need to protect themselves from the threat of cold.

TEMPERATURES UP TO -12 DEGREES. In Afghanistan, the population, already exhausted by 40 long years of conflict, must now live not only with the perennial threat to their own security but also with extreme poverty and a collapsing health system. In total they are over 3.5 million internally displaced people, almost 700,000 in the first 10 months of the year alone. 8 out of 10 are women and children. In the country, only 4% of the population has completed the vaccination cycle against Covid-19 and now, with the arrival of the winter season and with temperatures that can drop to 12 degrees below zero, the humanitarian situation is becoming even more dramatic. Many families live in makeshift housing and cannot even afford stoves and heating fuel. For them, winter becomes a daily challenge: without adequate protection, pneumonia or hypothermia can occur even within a single day. UNHCR is committed to providing extraordinary assistance for the winter to over 500,000 Afghan internally displaced persons, who will receive clothes and blankets in addition to direct economic assistance.

“With half the Afghan population struggling with one severe food insecurity and 3.5 million internally displaced personsni, the winter season seriously jeopardizes the survival of the most vulnerable, especially the elderly and children, ”he explains Chiara Cardoletti, UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino. “If an even greater humanitarian crisis, with not only regional but global implications, is to be prevented, the international community must support Afghanistan – and it must do so quickly.”


The conflict that has put the country to the test for more than 10 years has put more than 13 million people on the run. About 6.7 million are internally displaced and 6.6 million are refugees in other countries. The humanitarian crisis is devastating and affects every aspect of the daily life of individuals and families: they are no longer able to cope with disease, with hospitals destroyed and the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; they are unable to sustain themselves, with galloping devaluation and inflation; they are unable to get the youngest to study, with schools now in ruins and abandoned.

The arrival of the long Syrian winter only aggravates an already exhausted situation. UNHCR is committed to assisting over 840,000 people with the distribution of essential aids for survival in freezing temperatures. Over 15,000 refugees will also receive direct financial assistance.


UNHCR is working tirelessly, in Afghanistan and Syria, but also in Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan. A race against time and against freezing to reach at least 3.3 million people, those in particularly fragile situations, who risk not surviving the rigors of winter. Field intervention is structured around 3 life-saving actions: distribution of financial aid for vulnerable families; supply of materials for the thermal insulation of tents and emergency accommodation and interventions to improve rainwater drainage systems in the camps and informal settlements; distribution of essential accessories such as blankets, winter clothes, shoes and plastic sheets.

HEARTFUL APPEAL. Hence the heartfelt appeal of Cardoletti: “Everyone’s help can make a big difference and every single gesture, combined with others, can become a salvation for refugee and displaced families who risk not making it. Donating means giving each of them not only the goods they need to survive the winter, but also the possibility of continuing to hope that they will soon be able to leave behind the cold, hunger and violence “.


  • bank transfer made out to UNHCR IBAN: IT84R0100503231000000211000
  • postal order on the postal current account in the name of UNHCR Number: 298000

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