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Deadly Threat to Syrian Children as Temperatures Plummet

Media Contact
Francine Uenuma 202.450.9153 (M)


AMMAN, Jordan (January 7, 2015) — A major snowstorm has hit the Middle East, posing a serious threat to refugee families living in tents, huts and half-built buildings. There are currently more than 3 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis and Palestinians in Gaza.


Children are particularly vulnerable to the freezing temperatures. Many refugees are living in flimsy tents or open concrete building sites with little protection against the elements, and lack warm winter clothing. Last November, two newborn Syrian babies were killed by the cold when a smaller storm hit Lebanon.

"This is a frightening time for the millions of children who are homeless in the Middle East. Temperatures are predicted to drop as low as -11 in some areas, and for small children living in tents or half built shelters, often without proper shoes or winter coats, this is a very real threat," said Save the Children Middle East regional director Roger Hearn.


"Save the Children and other aid agencies in the Middle East are trying to help vulnerable families and ensure they do not go through this alone. For many refugees, this is now their fourth winter without a home."


Save the Children is on the ground in all the affected countries - including inside Syria, where an estimated 7 million people are internally displaced - helping to protect children from the worst effects of this storm. Teams have been distributing blankets overnight and moving families to temporary shelters. They have also been preparing for winter by providing families in Lebanon with the means to insulate their temporary shelters, and giving out winter clothing kits to refugee children across the region.

Number of Syrian Children Who Have Fled
Reaches One Million; Save the Children Warns of
Siege-like Conditions for Children inside Syria


The Emergency: Children caught in fighting in Syria are being killed, maimed, and denied access to food and medicine as the number of child refugees fleeing the civil war tops one million, Save the Children said today.


Save the Children has spoken to families trapped by some of the worst violence yet seen in the two-and-a-half year conflict. They tell of a desperate struggle to survive, living under bombardment, the threat of violence and ever-dwindling supplies as the war chokes Syrian cities.

click HERE for more--->

click HERE for more about Hunger in a War Zone--->


The Emergency:
Ten months after the Ebola outbreak was first identified in West Africa, it has evolved into the largest, most severe and complex outbreak in the history of the disease. In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Mali, the nature of the epidemic is changing. According to the WHO, the epidemic is now thought to be declining in Liberia but still increasing in Guinea and Sierra Leone, largely in remote areas. As of December 10, the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola was almost 18,000, with over 6,300 deaths. The impact of the crisis is thought to be far greater, as not all cases have been reported, tested or diagnosed. Across the region, there are 22.3 million people living in areas where Ebola transmission has occurred.


International aid agencies, national governments and the United Nations (UN) are working nonstop to blunt the spread of Ebola and ensure that worst-case scenarios will not be realized. As of December 1, two UN targets have been partially met: 70 percent of Ebola-infected people received treatment in Liberia and Guinea, and 70 percent of those who died of the disease were safely buried in all three countries. But more work needs to be done to contain sporadic outbreaks in remote regions that also put countries that share borders with areas of active transmission – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire and Mali – at risk.


Our Response:
Save the Children has had a strong presence in West Africa for years. We are working around the clock to help stem the spread of the virus and check its catastrophic impact on children and their families. Our staff played a vital role from the onset of the epidemic in bolstering community engagement in affected regions – a factor which is now thought to be a major reason behind the improving situation in Liberia. We are grateful to our brave staff who join other Ebola fighters in earning Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2014.

As the nature of the epidemic changes, so must our response approach. Save the Children is working now to contain sporadic outbreaks that are occurring in hard to reach remote communities in the affected countries. In Liberia, we will continue to identify, triage, test and refer patients to beds in Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) through our two Community Care Centers (CCC). We will also transform our static CCC model to a more nimble one that will bolster surveillance and contact tracing, and will develop Case Investigation Teams to respond swiftly to individual outbreaks by setting up isolation units, mobile labs and rapid referral mechanisms. We will look to use simple rapid response structures such as pop-up tents that will enable us to concentrate on more active case finding in hot zones to test and triage probable cases quickly.

Our three-pillar strategy to combat Ebola aims to reduce transmission and provide access to life-saving care, restore and strengthen health systems to increase access to treatment for non-Ebola conditions, and mitigate impact on essential services (child protection, education, nutrition, food security and livelihoods) by rehabilitating essential infrastructure and systems.

The Save the Children Long Island Council was founded in 1984 by Susan Lassen and M.L. Galston in response to a devastating famine in Ethiopia. From the small luncheon party they hosted at the very beginning, the Council has gone on to raise approximately 5 million dollars in the following years, which were distributed to Save the Children programs worldwide. The Council is made up of a Working Board of about 25 volunteers and is aided by a group of Council Partners. We focus locally on fund raising, education and building awareness. 

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world what every child deserves – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. When disaster strikes, we put children's needs first. We advocate for and achieve large-scale change for children. We save children's lives. Join us.

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