The Syrian refugee crisis is accelerating with a dramatic increase in the numbers of people flowing across its borders.
Over one million refugees have now fled into neighbouring countries since the onset of the crisis in March 2011.
In Jordan alone there has been a three-fold increase in the daily rate of people escaping the war ravaged country in the last week. Now extreme winter weather is compounding misery for refugees, with an increase in respiratory infections and pneumonia recorded in clinics in Lebanon and Jordan.
CAPTIONS: Top: A woman and her child take shelter as a syrian air force jet bombs the streets surrounding her house in the neighbourhood of Ahadarea, Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Sam Tarling / Oxfam. Middle: Refugees are flooding into camps in The Bekaa valley, trying to survive a harsh winter. Luca Sola/Oxfam. Bottom-left: Hanin Handan, 20, her husband Rasmi, 26, and their son. After their home was burned down during the fighting they fled Syria with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Luca Sola/Oxfam. Bottom-right: Samira arrived from Syria 3 days ago. She is living in a self made shelter with just one room, which she shares with 12 other people. She has no food, barely any blankets and is living in squalid conditions. Luca Sola/Oxfam.
Living in a self made shelter with just one room, Samira’s story encapsulates the challenges faced by many. A 45 year old widow (pictured above, right), she shares a home made from one wall of breezeblocks and plastic sheeting with 12 other people, including 7 of her eight children.
The floor is wet and icy cold, outside snow melts into the ground creating icy mud.
“It has been eight months since I left my home, I have no idea what happened to it we just had to leave it behind and escaped because of the fighting.”
Like her, an estimated 670,000 people have fled violence in Syria to neighbouring countries since the onset of the crisis in March 2011.
Families have arrived exhausted and traumatised. Some have faced bombs and bullets to get to refugee camps like Al Jaleel in the Beqaa Valley, which was originally built for Palestinians.
Nestled between snow-covered mountains and shrouded in a thick blanket of fog, it is a safe haven for thousands fleeing the escalating conflict.
Now, they are trying to get through one of the most brutal winters in the last two decades with almost nothing.
One of them is Hanin Handan, who fled to Lebanon with her husband and son.
“All of our food is from food distributions, we have no money for food as we lost everything when our house burned down. We used to have a good life, my husband had a good job rearing chickens and we were happy. Now we have nothing left.”
Oxfam Ireland is launching a crisis appeal to help the tens of thousands affected by the continuing crisis in Syria.
Their homes destroyed and lives shattered, these ordinary people are eking out an existence, in camps with no heating or furniture during one of the most brutal winters in the last two decades.
We cannot put an end to the fighting. But with the right determination and resources, we can help make things better for the many Syrian families who have lost almost everything.