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Winter a new enemy for Syrian war victims

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday fuel distributions are underway to displaced families in Syria. As the war continues, Syrians are facing a harsh winter living in emergency shelters.

The fuel will be used in stoves for both cooking and heating.

WFP Syria Country Director Matthew Hollingworth says, “Syria is always quite cold in winter but it is quite different when you face a fierce winter in a shelter with very limited resources rather than in the comfort of your own home. Most internally displaced Syrians fled their homes with few belongings so they do not even have enough warm clothes or blankets to fend off the freezing weather. They desperately need fuel for heating and to cook the food they receive as humanitarian assistance.”

WFP is continuing its food distributions in Syria despite violence and sometimes lack of access. Some areas the UN food agency is reaching for the first time in months. Overall, WFP is expecting to reach about 4 million Syrians inside the country with food rations.

However, WFP warns, "humanitarian needs and food insecurity are growing as the conflict exhausts the most vulnerable Syrians."

The harsh winter is further complicating relief plans. WFP had to delay an airlift from Iraq into Northeast Syria because of the terrible weather conditions. Some areas cannot be reached by road because of the conflict.

Meanwhile, WFP is feeding over a million refugees who have fled to other Middle Eastern countries. Winter is taking its toll there as well.

WFP spokesperson Laure Chadraoui says, "Temperatures drop below zero in mountainous areas in Lebanon including in Akkar and the Bekaa where Syrian refugees are concentrated, with snow already settling over their makeshift tents in some tented settlements."

The UN food agency is voluntarily funded. The international community needs to maintain the donations for what tragically looks like a war with no end in sight.

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