Syrian refugees fight a losing battle against icy winter as Big Heart Campaign makes plea for urgent ‘Warm Hearts’ donations

Fundraising packages enable donors to save refugees through blankets from as little as AED40, while providing shelters for thousands of families

UAE, Sharjah, X December 2013: With sub-zero temperatures showing no signs of improving, frost and ice are holding hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees hostage in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Making a desperate situation even worse, the overcrowded refugee shelters are now home to many newbornsand infants who were born after their parents fled Syria. Among the long list of dangers, the winter has brought frostbite which could lead to limbs being amputated, or hypothermia which could result in death. This has putthe Big Heart Campaign in a life-and-death race against time, as it urgently mobilizes the public to support its “Warm Hearts” donation drive to provide much-needed shelters and blankets.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Patron of the Big Heart Campaign, made another heartfelt plea to the public: “We are extremely grateful to all those who donated warm clothing in response to the Warm Hearts campaign. However the tragic reality is that the situation has now gone from critical to catastrophic.With freezing temperatures night and day, many refugee children are now unable to go to school, while their parents are unable to go and seek urgent medical attention. For a few years now Syrian families have found refuge in neighboring countries to protect their children from bullets and bombs. But sadly, they are now faced with another deadly threat in this harsh winter. If we don’t provide adequate shelter, blankets and warm clothing, we may have many casualties – many of them children.Only the warmth of your hearts can save them, so let’s join hands in donating pre-fab homes and winter supplies to the Syrian families under the cold, dark, open skies right now.”

Under the Winter package 1 option, donors can choose to provide a warm shelter for one refugee family for AED11,500; or 10 families (AED115,000); or 100 families (AED1,150,000). Meanwhile under the Winter package 2, for only AED40 donors can provide a potentially life-saving blanket for one refugee; or one family (AED200); five families (AED1,000); 500 families or 2,500 refugees (AED100,000); and 5,000 families or 25,000 refugees (AED1 million).

In one of the harshest winters in living memory, temperatures have plummeted as low as -9C in Iraq, and below freezing point in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, while bringing rains to the UAE. Since the refugees had to flee Syria in a hurry, most of them carried only minimal luggage, making heavy blankets very rare and leaving many refugees with only the clothes they escaped their homeland with.

Their crudely constructed makeshift shelters are overcrowded and unsanitary, making a good night’s sleep a thing of the past. Previously the Big Heart Campaign managed to put a roof over the heads of 10,000 homeless Syrians,while bringing desperately needed food, cash and other relief to 400,000 Syrian refugees across the region.

The freezing temperatures are not the only threat facing Syrians, as the winter will also make it harder for Syrians to find clean drinking water or travel to seek medical attention or work, which in turn could trigger health pandemics – a situation that has been described as a “humanitarian time-bomb”.

The campaign has so far facilitated urgently needed medical treatment for 265,000 Syrians, with interventions ranging from artificial limbs after amputations, to chronic diseases and corrective surgery to remedy the effects of surgeries that were done at poorly equipped and under-staffed makeshift hospitals.

Donors are urgently requested to send funds through ‘Salam YaSeghar’, endorsed by HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi (Wife of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR Eminent Advocate).

Winter package 1:
AED11,500: one family | AED115,000: 10 families | AED1,150,000: 100 families

Winter package 2:
AED40: one refugee | AED200: one family | AED1,000: 5 families | AED100,000: 500 families | AED1 million: 5,000 families

Bank Details:

Account Name: Salam YaSeghar “For Syrian Refugee Children”
Account Number: 00344 3043 0012
(Kindly write the bank account number behind your cheque)
IBAN: AE5804 100000 3443043 0012

Contact: +971-6-594-1111/15/03

The Executive Office of HH Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi

Mariam Al Obeidli, +971-6-5941126