In 2011, Syria slipped into a bloody conflict that has, so far, claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people in four years. Once a middle-income country, much of Syria is now in ruins, and more than half of its population is in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 7.6 million people are internally displaced and another 3.8 million have fled to neighbouring countries, making it one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. Syria’s neighbours are struggling to cope with the influx of refugees as public services and infrastructure have been put under extreme strain. Buckling under the weight of the crisis, Jordan and Lebanon have increasingly restricted their borders to people trying to cross.

With the war showing no signs of abating, Syrians who manage to flee the conflict are facing increasingly difficult conditions in neighbouring countries. International humanitarian aid has been vital in helping them to meet basic needs such as water and sanitation, food and shelter. However, livelihood options remain limited, and Syrians who have depleted all their savings are relying on humanitarian aid or forced to adopt negative coping strategies, including early marriage and exploitative labour. As a majority of refugees live in informal settlements or substandard shelters, for which they have to pay rent, the situation for many is dire and they need continued support.

Winter has been challenging for millions of refugees and displaced people inside and outside Syria. Many shelters are damaged and thousands of families are unable to access food and water, whilst large numbers lack sufficient warm clothes. Winter is particularly harsh for families living in tents and in high altitude areas.