Infographic: Displaced Syrians face winter’s wrath | New infographics

Harsh winter conditions have deepened the poverty of millions of displaced people in northwestern Syria.

Over the past week, a snowstorm across Syria and neighboring countries has left millions of displaced Syrians in danger of frost and killed at least three children.

In the North West Province, people tried to clear the snow with shovels and even with their bare hands. Those who could not afford or find wood for the fires had to burn whatever they could find, even plastic.

The freezing weather is not just affecting Syrians in the northwest, but across the war-torn country and in refugee camps in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

But conditions are worse in northwestern Syria, where displaced Syrians make up about two-thirds of the 4.1 million people who live there. Nearly 2.2 million people live in camps and 1.7 million of them live in tent camps in a war zone.

“There are 1.7 million people living in these appalling conditions in a war zone, and they haven’t received the level of support they need,” said Mark Cutts, UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian crisis, at Al Jazeera.

“We urge the international community to help us get these people out of the tents into safer and more dignified temporary shelters.

Their tents have collapsed or are badly damaged, and at least three children have died from the snowstorm in the past week, according to the UN and aid groups.

A week into the snowstorm, aid workers are struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of families trapped in the storm.

“Freezing temperatures and ice prevent water trucks and health teams from reaching these places, and it is difficult for people to get to bakeries to collect bread and other essentials,” said Cutts to Al Jazeera.

A map of the freezing temperatures of northwest Syria

The UN, humanitarian agencies and local initiatives provided routine winter assistance: insulation materials for tents, blankets, winter clothing and heating.

But this year they face new challenges: endemic poverty in the northwest has been compounded by major funding shortfalls from the international community and the fallout from the pound inflation crisis. Turkish currency while areas held by Turkish-backed groups have adopted Turkish currency.

“Last year, for all of Syria, we appealed for over $4 billion, and that appeal was only 45% funded. And that compares to the previous year when we received 58 percent [of funding]says Cutts, adding that a large population depends on humanitarian aid to survive.

“We saw displaced people melting snow to use as drinking water.”

Over the past month, the prices of drinking water, heating fuel and wood have skyrocketed.

an infographic of the cost of commodities over a one-year period showing the increases

At the same time, almost the entire population depends on humanitarian aid just to survive, with 97% of northwestern Syria living in extreme poverty, on less than $2 a day. More than 80% of Syrians living in the northwest need food assistance.

So even after the storm has passed, the effort to support millions of people will remain urgent. Cutts and aid workers say most camp residents have sold their belongings to survive as they struggle to find sustainable jobs and live in safer and healthier structures.

“They even struggled to get out to collect firewood and other burnt items for heating and cooking,” Cutts said.

“Conditions in these camps are still difficult, but they have gotten much worse in recent days.”

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