First Person

Photo of the week: A cold winter for those who’ve left home behind

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Photo: Luca Sola/Oxfam

Samira, pictured above in a camp for displaced people in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, is a refugee from the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Samira is living in a self-made shelter with just one room, which she shares with 12 other people. Her home is made from one wall of breezeblocks and finished with plastic sheeting and cardboard boxes. The floor is wet and icy cold, and outside snow melts into the ground, creating icy mud.

“[My family] decided to come to Lebanon because of the fighting that was taking place,” Samira told Oxfam last month. “The shelling and the shooting were happening while we were trying to live peacefully in our homes. It has been eight months since I left my home. I have no idea what happened to it; we just had to leave it behind and escape because of the fighting.”

An estimated 670,000 people have fled violence in Syria to neighboring countries since the onset of the crisis in March 2011. The region is now experiencing harsh winter weather conditions, with heavy rain and snowstorms sending temperatures plummeting to below zero. Many of the displaced are living in shelters with no winter clothes and no blankets.

Oxfam and its local partners have been distributing blankets, mattresses, heaters, gas oil, and other supplies to help the new arrivals stay warm during the harsh winter. Significant funds are needed to reach more refugees before winter takes its toll.

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