Displaced Syrian children sitting in a refugee camp on the southwestern borders of Syria | PHOTO: ARCHIVE/EPA/Yahya Nemah
Displaced Syrian children sitting in a refugee camp on the southwestern borders of Syria | PHOTO: ARCHIVE/EPA/Yahya Nemah

The Italian Committee for UNICEF has warned that the imminent arrival of freezing temperatures across the Middle East poses a serious danger for refugees in the area, in particular Syrian children.

Freezing temperatures across the Middle East pose a serious risk for Syrian children, the spokesman of UNICEF Italia Andrea Iacomini warned on February 16, calling for global action to avoid "a massacre." As the weather gets colder in the region, organizations like UNICEF are trying to raise awareness to the plight of those internally displaced and without adequate accommodation. 

"The cold climate will soon hit the entire Middle East again, with temperatures below zero in different areas and each year children in the region get sick, stop going to school and risk dying," Iacomini added.

"A major global and humanitarian movement of charity is necessary or it will be a massacre," he noted, talking in particular about the risks faced by Syrian children.

'Grave conditions for refugee children' 

"We have been denouncing the seriousness of the situation for Syrian children in winter for years," said Iacomini. It is a known that children are more at risk during the winter and each time media reports talk about the death of a child people appear to be surprised but this was not enough, according to Iacomini, who highlighted the case of Iman, an 18-month-old displaced Syrian girl who died due to harsh weather conditions last week.

"It is clear that this war, like others, is not on politicians' agenda any longer," the spokesman added.

Iacomini denounced the 'Alan effect,' referring to Alan Kurdi, a two-year-old Syrian refugee whose drowned body was discovered in 2015 on a beach in Turkey. Photos of the boy shocked the world and put a human face on the refugee crisis. But Iacomini said "global commotion and indignation" is followed by indifference. "Then children are left to die in those territories amid general indifference without anyone daring to say stop," said the spokesman. 

Millions of children without protection from the cold 

"Millions of vulnerable children in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the state of Palestine and refugees in Turkey have little protection against the cold. What do we want to do?" questioned the spokesman. 

"In these countries alone, there are nearly four million displaced children and 4.8 million children living as refugees. Last winter, at least 130 children died on their way or once they had arrived at Al Hol camp in northeast Syria, after fleeing intense violence in Baghouz and the surrounding areas. The same thing happened in the area of Idlib, where things are hellish," concluded Iacomini. 

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