23-Oct-2015 00:03:13
Fifteen million displaced Syrians and Iraqis in the Middle East will soon face yet another winter away from home, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. UNHCR
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1. Med shot, men carrying construction material
2. Med shot, woman with kid
3. Med shot, man carrying material
4. Med shot, people among tents
5. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ibrahim, Syrian Refugee:
“First we were two families living in a house, one family left, we could no longer pay the rent, so we moved to another house, we couldn’t pay the rent there so we came here. We borrowed money to build the tent.”
6. Pan right, tented settlement
7. Various shots, mother sitting with child
8. Wide shot, track with construction material backing up
9. Wide shot, Syrian refugees queuing to get material
10. Wide shot, Aid worker taking down plastic sheets for tents
11. Close up, child
12. Various shots, unloading material
13. Wide shot, woman on the street
14. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Jazee’a, Syrian Refugee:
“We have children in the family, I have two sons, they have a daughter each, and we would just wrap them up well. God helped us. We got some aid, when we got fuel we use fuel (for heater), when we get wood we use wood, this is how we spent it.”
15. Wide shot, wooden beams on the ground
16. Wide shot, UNHCR employee next to distribution truck
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Tatiana Audi, UNHCR:
“This year we try to start as early as possible in order to make sure all the resettlements are reinforced, very well reinforced before the storms hit.”
18. Various shots, people carrying material
19. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ibrahim, Syrian Refugee:
“We are going to reinforce it, the rest we leave to God. You hear people say tents are not strong, others say it will collapse on us. We have faith in God, we will build, the rest is in his hands.”
20. Med shot man carrying beams
21. Close up, woman and child watching
22. Pan left, man bringing material home
Fifteen million displaced Syrians and Iraqis in the Middle East will soon face yet another winter away from home, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Winter will be especially tough for the many who are living in insulated garages, basements or unfinished buildings, animal stalls or other flimsy makeshift structures.

For many Syrians, this will be their 5th winter in exile as the war gripping their country digs deeper. Today, refugees are now more vulnerable than ever: their savings long gone, jewellery and other valuables sold off, and increasing numbers in debt to cover basic needs. People are skipping meals, begging, pulling children out of school, or resorting to high-risk or degrading jobs. In Iraq, 3.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) uprooted from their homes by fighting since the start of last year will face their 1st or 2nd winter away from home.

Last winter was particularly brutal, with multiple snow storms hitting the region between November and January. In Lebanon's Bekaa valley, temperatures fell to -15 degrees centigrade while refugees were shovelling up to 50 cm of snow off roofs of their makeshift dwellings. In Jordan, refugees in camps saw damage to their shelters from high winds and flooding while thousands outside camps, half of whom live in substandard shelters, suffered through bitterly cold winter nights.

For the coming winter, UNHCR's $236 million aid programme to help 2.5 million Syrians and 700,000 Iraqis is already underway. The programme targets the specific living conditions of various displaced populations and includes a mix of extra cash, high thermal blankets, plastic tarpaulins and other forms of shelter insulation (from tent liners to polystyrene foam boards and insulated floor mats), heating fuel, stoves or heaters and winter shoes and clothing. Despite this, a current funding shortfall, especially for our Iraq situation which is only 52 per cent funded, will leave almost half a million people including uprooted Iraqis and Syrian refugees without fuel for cooking, or for heating their homes.

UNHCR's winter plan for the Syria situation requires $US 171 million to reach 2.5 million people, and is 89 per cent funded with $147 million received by mid-October. Our plan for the Iraq situation to reach 700,000 people requires US $66 million and is only 52 per cent funded, with $34 million received as of mid-October.

In Lebanon, where more than half the country's 1 million plus refugees live in sub-standard shelters preparations are in full swing to protect the most vulnerable families from a possible repeat of last year's winter storms. Last winter hit early in November and continued until late March, with several villages experiencing waves of snowfall, strong winds and heavy rain making access difficult, especially in locations above 1,600 metres.
At a time when the vulnerabilities of Syrian refugees have increased by 100 per cent in some areas, UNHCR and partners estimate that 195,000 Syrian families (975,000 people) will suffer from winter and will need assistance to keep warm and dry.

UNHCR and partners are also distributing aid to 65,000 families (325,000 people, vulnerable Lebanese and Syrians), such as stoves, heavy blankets, winter clothes, and fuel for schools to help them survive winter. And, we are ensuring shelters are weatherproof and insulated and that classrooms in elevated areas are warm by providing fuel in schools.

As with last winter, UNHCR will be giving out weather proofing kits including plastic sheeting, plywood and timber to reinforce weak small-scale shelters for 27,000 families and protect 135,000 people from the elements. In addition, we are introducing insulation kits for 15,000 families (about 75,000 people) this year for those living in larger spaces like unfinished buildings where it is hard to conserve heat, especially for those in very exposed parts of the country like the Bekaa Valley. The kits, which cost $270 each, include timber, plywood construction materials rolls of compressed insulating foam, stretched into wooden frames and installed inside rooms and shelters to improve heat retention.
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