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Press Centre (1/2015)

Snow is not fun for Children of Syria!

Some children in Turkey are very cold! Thus, we invite everyone to take action for those children and support UNICEF Turkey. @UNICEF/Turkey-2015/Yurtsever
ANKARA, Turkey, January 2015 - What comes to your mind when you think of winter? Making a snowman, the fun of playing snowball, hot coffee, chestnut, polar fleece blankets, colourful wool gloves… However, winter and snow unfortunately do not have such nice connotations for some. Especially for children who have to work outside in the freezing cold with thin clothes that are not for winter.

Harsh winter conditions have spread across Turkey, heavy fall of snow, snow storms and strong windsare making the daily life harder especially for the ones that have to be outside.

Some Syrians in Turkey either in the camps or host communities especially the ones in shelters and nylon tents around slums took their fine share of harsh weather.  As usual, these fierce conditions are affecting children the most. Some of these children are out all day, collecting paper instead of being at school.

Turkey and UNICEF works together

According to the official records, there are approximately 1.6 million Syrian citizens and 1.4 million of them are living outside camps – in hard to reach areas in 72 cities of Turkey. The number of children living in camps is 119.000 while the number of the ones outside camps have reached up to 763.000.

UNICEF in collaboration with Turkish partners distributed winter sets to 93.000 children in 2013 and 56.000 children in 2014 on top of school shoes for 85.000 children and thermal underwear to 30.000 children in 2 - 15 age group, in the Suruc district of Sanliurfa province.

Ankara, the capital of Turkey hosts quite big number of Syrians at different areas of the town including Dikmen Valley. Being an urban transformation area, this valley bears somecontradictions in itself;on one side multi-storey buildings and luxury villas are rising, on the other side we see a shanty town.

Having immigrated from the rural areas of Aleppo to the capital of Turkey, Ankara, these families have built a fragile life for themselves in this valley. Some Syrian children are walking around barefoot and trying to survive in this unhealthy environment.

Snowdropson eyelashes

Khalil is from Aleppo,only 7 years old,meetsusbarefoot in front of the tent. The reply to the question of “what you would like to be in the future?” was heart breaking:  “I don’t want to go to school. I will work.” He is just another member of a family where all the brothers are collecting paper in the streets.

Ferit’s elaborately swept-back hair is really eye-catching. 10 years old boy says “I am cold. Especially at nights! It gets extremely cold towards morning. There is always snow at the top of our tent.” while the snow drops on his eyelashesaremeltingslowly.

The story of his friends is not different from Khalil’s. None of them are going to school.  Mohammed even though is only 14 years old feels responsible for his family. He is fetching a pink boot for his sister given by a benevolent person to keep one of the sister’s warm.

Yusuf (11) tells that “a coat, a pair of bootsand black gloves” that will keep him warm is his winter dream.

Two young mothers - one with a little baby and the other one with a toddler wearing a summer jacket - were reluctant to talk to us.  Only when they are walking away, in an embarrassed way whisper “Send us warm clothes, please!”.

Some children in Turkey are very cold! We invite everyone to take action for those children and support UNICEF Turkey.www.unicefturk.org/suriye/

Story and photos by: Ayberk Yurtsever
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org