With the passing of each season, we each have our own comforting habits and behaviours. For refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and those in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, many of these are focused around dealing with extremes in weather, and trying to find a way to make their often hostile environment a little more bearable.
During the desert summer, many families will sit on rooftops or head to open spaces to try to find some relief from the suffocating heat. Cramped and poorly built homes in the refugee camps provide little shelter from the burning sun. By the time winter arrives, families are forced to huddle together against the cold as the corrugated iron shelters that provided little protection from the sun offer no comfort during the winter months. Severe floods have become a regular feature of the meteorological landscape, with freezing temperatures and unsanitary conditions leaving a public health crisis all but inevitable. With so much damaged infrastructure in Gaza, and so many refugees crowded into inadequate housing in Lebanon, winter is looking bleak and dangerous for the most vulnerable in society.
How do you get ready for winter? What will you be doing to stay warm and healthy as the days and nights get colder?
As we pull out our warm gloves and winter jumpers, many Palestinian children will not have adequate shoes or coats. With most homes having no central heating, regular electricity cuts and the rising cost of fuel, winter clothes are needed inside and outside the home.
As we turn up the temperature on our thermostats, many refugee families living in makeshift housing or rooms left unrepaired following the violence of 2014 will struggle to afford both rent and fuel for heat and cooking. This means making difficult decisions, between feeding your children or keeping elderly relatives warm throughout the night. What would you choose?
Whilst many families are fortunate enough to manage the cold, the sudden onset of extreme weather can destabilise this hard-won security, often leaving them unable to remain in their homes. For those already struggling with precarious employment conditions and financial insecurity, each new challenge can be the one that renders them unable to cope.
The cold can be dangerous. The young and the elderly remain those most at risk from sickness and without adequate protection or medical support, the freezing temperatures can often be fatal. This is why Interpal will be providing essential medical supplies, warm clothing, and safe heating and fuel to make winter more bearable and less dangerous for those in need.
You can support our winter appeal by calling us on 0208 961 9993 or by visiting www.interpal.org