Syrian Women and Families in Crisis
“We left Syria to protect my daughter from violence,” a mother named Noura said. “But we have fled from one nightmare to another. We are so cold, and hungry. Our tent is full of icy puddles and cold mud. I worry every day about my daughter. How will I keep her warm?”
Civil war in Syria has forced families to flee their homes by the thousands. In the refugee camps, traumatized women and children are in danger of freezing to death as terrible winter storms come in. MADRE is there – working to meet the immediate needs of people living in the camps, providing counseling for those who have survived rape, and digging in for the long haul, to help Syrians rebuild their lives long after the other relief organizations have packed their tents and left.
Your gift makes a difference.
- $50 will provide blankets to help one family stay warm
- $80 will provide emergency food supplies of rice and other staples for one family
- $150 will support counseling for women suffering from sexual violence
- $200 will provide space heaters for four families
- $500 will help replace a storm-damaged tent
The Syrian Civil War
More than 60,000 innocent civilians across Syria have died in the two years President Bashar al-Assad has desperately clung to power amidst civil war. Refugees stream by the thousands across borders to escape the violence.
The unrest has led to an epidemic of sexual violence. Women have described being gang-raped in the town square by armed men. Young girls have been raped at checkpoints, while their mother and father are forced to watch.
Mothers are gathering their children in terror and escaping to refugee camps, hoping to spare their daughters that fate, or find shelter for young girls already subjected to violence. Refugees are identifying rape as a primary reason for fleeing Syria.
But their trauma does not end there.
The Refugee Crisis
It’s now the dead of winter. In Jordan’s Za’atari camp, where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled this week alone, bitter cold cuts through the flimsy tents that families huddle in. Mothers like Noura wrap their children up as warmly as they can and keep watch all night, fearing that their babies will freeze to death.
650,000 Syrians are registered or wait to be registered as refugees. That number marks an increase of 100,000 in the last month alone. The numbers are climbing daily, and the problems presented by the unmet need and overcrowding are only getting worse.
On January 22, UNHCR confirmed that 15,000 Syrian refugees had entered Jordan in just 5 days. There are more than 300,000 refugees currently in Jordan, and over 60,000 in a single refugee camp – and that number is growing every moment. More than half of these refugees are children.
The bitterly cold winter season has rendered useless the thin tents that serve as shelter. There is widespread food shortage. Aid agencies are warning of a “prolonged humanitarian crisis.” UN agencies are completely overwhelmed by the need.
And despite reports of rape, including rape of very young girls, the countries now overwhelmed by refugees have few resources available for dealing with the many survivors of sexual assault and trauma.
Our partner Reema, on the ground in Za’atari, told MADRE that more than 2,000 women will soon give birth in the displacement camp. Once these babies are born, they will need our help to survive the brutal conditions and freezing cold. Many of the refugees do not even have blankets or adequate clothing for the weather. When they fled their homes with what they could carry months ago, it never occurred to them that they would travel so far, or for so long, with so little help.
MADRE Is There
MADRE is already on the ground at the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan with our partners, midwives trained to work in crisis settings and deliver humanitarian aid to women and families who need it most. We work woman to woman, giving survivors of rape the support they need to cope with the immediate trauma and physical devastation of sexual violence, and providing families with blankets and other necessities to ward off the freezing cold.
This is what MADRE is known for—providing urgent responses to crises in ways that are both concrete and effective. And we’re there for the long haul, helping women overcome brutality and violence, and rebuild their lives, long after the other relief organizations have packed their tents and left.
What makes MADRE truly distinctive is that our emergency assistance is a doorway, a first step to helping women cope with traumas they’d otherwise never be able to face or speak about. They're suffering terribly, not just from cold, but from the rape and slaughter that’s forced them to become refugees. MADRE will do more than feed and clothe – with your help, we will give these women strength for the long haul. We will help the mothers and the daughters who have survived rape, who need urgent reproductive health care … long after other agencies leave.
Syrian refugees continue to flood Jordan amid warnings of crisis, CNN (January 25, 2013)
The Syrian Refugee Crisis, The New York Times (January 20, 2013)
Seeking safety from rape, Syrian girls reportedly are marrying earlier than before war, The Miami Herald (January 15, 2013)
Mass Grave Found in Aleppo Amid Fierce Fighting, The New York Times (January 15, 2013)
Rape has become ‘significant’ part of Syrian war, says humanitarian group, The Washington Post (January 14, 2013)
Winter, Food Shortages, Descend on Syria’s Refugees, The Daily Beast (January 9, 2013)
Syria: A Regional Crisis, The IRC Commission on Syrian Refugees (January 2013)