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Children collect supplies for their families at one of the school-shelters in Aleppo (Avo Kaprealian and Sedki Al Imam/Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Beirut) December 17, 2012 — As winter rains set in over the region and temperatures dropped, the Jesuit Refugee Service team in Syria delivered the worrying news that there is a shortage of winter supplies.

"We buy what we need and when we can. It's difficult to find all the supplies that we need, and it's never enough compared to the demand," said the JRS Assistant Director in Damascus.

For now, JRS has managed to provide mattresses and blankets for the 3,000 people in Damascus. However, this number increases monthly as more displaced families seek refuge in the capital city.

Inaccessibility of supplies. In the wake of recent escalated violence in Damascus, with bombings and fierce gunfights breaking out in areas of the capital city, it has become increasingly difficult to ensure the procurement and safe delivery of emergency supplies for displaced people.

Last month, the bombing of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) warehouses in Aleppo, where food baskets and other non-food items were stored, placed a further strain on emergency efforts in Aleppo and surrounding areas. SARC relies on a network of NGOs, like JRS, other local organizations, and volunteers on the ground, to help them deliver the aid to families in need.

"We have 1,250 food baskets in stock, this will last us one more week. After that, if SARC is unable to replenish its supplies then we will have to source the supplies for the food baskets ourselves," said Tariq, a JRS volunteer in Aleppo.

Expanding services. In Mashta Il-Hulou, an area near Homs, there is a preponderance of displaced families from surrounding villages. JRS now provides assistance to 500 families in this region in the form of blankets, heaters and food which complements the SARC food baskets that are distributed by volunteers in coordination with JRS.

Further plans are underway to purchase and distribute enough winter shoes and clothes in all areas where JRS works, as well as to provide other essential items.

"We are supporting local markets as much as we can by buying from local stores. Most manufacturing industries have been destroyed so we cannot produce anything ourselves. But we have managed to buy enough school bags for the children we're responsible for in our school-shelters," explained Abu Ahmed of JRS in Aleppo.

How can you help? 

Below is a list of items that people in Syria urgently need in order to survive the winter. With your financial help, we can alleviate the suffering of Syrians.

• $65: a food-basket for a five-person family for one month.
• $105: a basic personal kit: one mattress, two sheets, one pillow, two winter-blankets and two towels.
• $157: winter clothing for one family (pullover, jacket, trousers, shoes.
• $210: one month's rent of an apartment for a displaced family.
• $5232: cost of providing cooked meals for 10,000 people for one day. 


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