, communication coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Union
ADRA has distributed winter clothes and blankets to nearly 100,000 refugees in the Middle East over the past three winters, its local office said this week.
The humanitarian aid went to Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan and internally displaced people in Syria and Iraq — four countries that faced severe cold weather and temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius).
Nagi Khalil, director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency for the Middle East and North Africa, said many of the 95,353 Syrians and Iraqis assisted by ADRA fled their homes with little but the clothes on their backs because of civil war or the ISIS militant group.
“A large number of families are staying in camps or in unfinished buildings providing little protection from chilly wind and rain,” Khalil said.
A 74-year-old Syrian grandmother said the cold winter gave her frostbite before she moved into an ADRA-managed school building with her grandchildren.
“There was only one blanket, and at night we used to warm ourselves by hugging and crying,” she said. “Now we can stay warm with enough clothes and blankets from ADRA.”
ADRA’s office in Syria’s capital, Damascus, handed out clothes and blankets to 5,000 families, or 31,181 individuals, in shelters in the cities of Damascus, Hama, and Quinetra during the winter of 2013-14.
The newly registered ADRA office in Erbil, located in the Kurdish region of Iraq, distributed clothes and blankets to 5,000 families, or 30,000 people, in the winter of 2014-15.
ADRA’s Lebanon office delivered similar aid to 515 Syrian refugee families and vulnerable Lebanese families, or 3,090 people, in the Mount Lebanon area during same period.
ADRA worked in partnership with a local nongovernmental organization, the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, to deliver winter clothes to 5,172 Syrian refugee families, or 31,032 people, in the Jordanian cities of Amman, Irbid, Mafraq, and Zarqa during the 2012-13 winter.
Khalil said diverse organizations from Germany, Canada, Denmark, Syria, and Jordan have assisted ADRA’s work in the Middle East in recent years and noted that the flow of refugees has not stopped.
More than 9.5 million Syrians have been uprooted by unrest at home, and 3 million of them have fled to other countries, according to United Nations figures. About 1.8 million people have been displaced by violence in Iraq.
“We are grateful to those who support this project to bring relief and hope for families affected by conflict,” Khalil said. “Displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa still need support and help, and the response is ongoing in a number of sectors, including education, shelter, non-food items, and hygiene."