UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has launched its new winter campaign, ‘This Winter, Commit to Kindness’ in support of its Regional Winterization Assistance Plan 2020-2021. The plan aims to reach 3.8 million people with urgent and substantial help to be able to endure winter in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria, and Egypt.

With refugee hosting countries having some of the coldest winters in the MENA region, refugees face sub-zero temperatures, flooding, and storms and need urgent support to overcome these harsh months ahead of them. For many, this will be the tenth consecutive winter in displacement, with families facing even greater hardships this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic impact which has forced thousands of displaced families into extreme poverty, making them even more vulnerable than before.

Winter will be especially tough for refugees and internally displaced families who live in substandard housing. Unable to support the additional cost of heating, home insulation, warm clothes, and sickness during the cold months, families are forced to make difficult decisions to cut back on food, medicine, and other necessities to overcome these conditions.

Without urgent help, many will simply not be able to stay safe and warm during the coldest months. Donations through the campaign will help provide seasonal cash assistance for vulnerable families, shelter support and core relief items.

Speaking about the campaign and need for urgent donations, Houssam Chahine, Chief of Private Sector Partnerships for MENA at UNHCR, commented: “This year has been difficult for us all in some way, it has been specifically challenging for those who have been forced to flee from their homes and countries, and placed in situations where the difficulties we have endured in 2020 are increasingly hard to commit to.”

“In these tough times, no matter what people are going through, they are taking more time out to help others. We ask people to extend their kindness this winter and spread their generosity to include the men, women and children who have braved conditions beyond our imagination to find safety - to then only be confronted by the harshness of winter and now COVID-19. Any act of kindness could be a lifeline for many refugee families struggling to survive the cold season,” Chahine said.

To launch the campaign, UNHCR has created a 59 second TVC that is running across TV and social media channels in the Middle East, focusing on the story of Samer, a 14 year-old boy, that despite his circumstances, brings joy and warmth to his neighbours – Dima, Ayoub, Amal and Yamen - by playing the violin for them, and giving them what he can – his time, his passion and some small items from home to try and keep the family warm.

The new campaign TVC can be viewed here.

To support UNHCR’s winter appeal for the MENA region, the public can visit: http://giving.unhcr.org/winter or download its newly launched Zakat mobile application “GiveZakat”; allowing audiences to dedicate year-end Zakat to transforming the lives of those in dire need of assistance. Every donation and act of kindness can warm a heart this winter.

Source: Hill+Knowlton Strategies 

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