Keeping Displaced Families Warm During Winter

Winter in northeast Syria’s displacement camps and informal settlements can be harsh for the hundreds of thousands of families who left so much behind to flee conflict. With average low temperatures in the region dropping to 1 degree Celsius during the winter, people depend on heat sources to survive the cold; however, many cannot afford oil or heaters. 

Displaced families living in camps or informal settlements in northeast Syria can receive oil for heating during the winter months from the SAFER program. Iman, right, said her family is staying warm and inviting others to visit their tent now that they have proper heating.

The Shelter and Food Emergency Response (SAFER) program, funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, provides relief for displaced communities during the winter. From December to March, SAFER distributes kerosene and diesel for heating. This valuable fuel serves as a lifeline for those struggling to stay warm in tents and poorly insulated buildings. 

We tailor the fuel distributions to family size so there is enough heat to keep everyone warm. Households receive between 2.5 liters to five liters per day. Our team coordinates with other Blumont-operated programs in the region to ensure that families have the essentials they need in the winter, including heaters, stoves, food, and basic services. 

In 2023, SAFER provided families with over two million liters of heating fuel. Equitable delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid is keeping these communities safe. 

Stories from SAFER’s Winterization Efforts


Finding Solace in Winter

Ahmed, displaced for years and battling a chronic illness, found winter particularly challenging. Job opportunities dwindled, and securing heating fuel seemed an impossible feat. But SAFER’s distribution of diesel fuel brought Ahmed relief. 

“Assistance from SAFER went beyond merely providing physical warmth,” Ahmed explains. “It not only ensured warmth for my children during the winter but also allowed me to save some money. These savings became a lifeline.” 


A Lifeline for a Child's Health

Hassan was concerned for his young child–who needed medical treatment–during the cold winter months. The soaring costs of heating and health care threatened to overwhelm him. The heating fuel from SAFER helped alleviate Hassan’s financial burdens. 

“This support is a lifeline,” Hassan said. “It allowed me to redirect resources towards the much-needed medical treatment for my child. Blumont has made a tangible difference, providing hope and resilience for us to face our challenges.”


Cooking with Dignity and Safety

Nofa, who fled home seven years ago, knows the daily struggles of life in a displacement camp. After receiving kerosene and cooking stoves from the SAFER team, her family can enjoy hot meals and warmth without the dangers of collecting or burning firewood. 

“This support keeps us away from the danger,” Nofa explained. “It contributes to our sense of dignity and provides practical solutions to the challenges we face.” 


Savings for Health and Security

Shukri, a man in his seventies who had been displaced along with his family, faced a bleak winter. Heating costs loomed large, endangering his family’s well-being. However, SAFER’s intervention provided hope for his family’s future. Shukri plans to redirect funds toward his wife’s medical treatment and pay for his son’s wedding. 

“Our family was able to face the winter with warmth and security,” he said. “The positive impact of SAFER assistance not only improved my family’s immediate living conditions but also restored our sense of hope and possibility.” 


Sharing Warmth, Sharing Stories

Iman, a mother of eight, recalls the fear of winter before SAFER’s intervention. The exorbitant prices of heating materials made them seem almost out of reach. The distribution of kerosene, heaters, and storage cans is helping keep Iman’s family warm while creating a space for gatherings. 

“These heaters have become more than just a source of warmth,” Iman said. “They are our friends, gathering us together for conversations and stories. The comforting heat creates a sense of resilience in the face of hardship.”


Accessible Solutions to Stay Warm

Halima has a disability and cannot easily leave her tent. She remembers the cold of winter before SAFER’s intervention when it was difficult to get oil. Now, the SAFER team delivers kerosene to her tent; they ensure people with disabilities get the fuel they need without having to navigate the camps. 

“Blumont has alleviated our suffering,” Halima said. “We are not only surviving, we are looking to the future with optimism.”


A Father's Strength, Fueled by Compassion

Shaaban, a single father who lost his wife during childbirth, cares for his disabled daughter and family. He understands the burden of responsibility. Winter added another layer of difficulty, but with SAFER’s assistance, the family has heating fuel, medication, and food. 

“In the face of hardships, I discovered a source of hope and support,” Shaaban said. “The impact extended beyond immediate needs, reaching into the realm of sustenance.”