Issam with his mother Lutfeieh live next to each other in Azraq camp in Jordan. Photo: Hassan Hijazi/NRC

Giving warmth during winter

Hassan Hijazi|Published 28. Dec 2018
Although Jordan is known for its pleasant weather, the winter season can be very harsh, with temperatures below zero. The Norwegian Refugee Council is on the ground in Azraq camp in central-eastern Jordan to help Syrian refugees prepare for the freezing cold.

"You cannot escape the cold."  

Hamza Abu Salim, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)’s distribution officer in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, is part of the team helping refugees to cope with the winter season.

In the camp, we’ve managed distributions of basic household items, clothing and winter assistance as well as one-off in-kind distributions since early 2013. Among the things we provide are heaters, thermal blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets and cooking sets with two gas cylinders to newly arrived refugees in the camp.

According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 36,000 Syrian refugees are currently living in Azraq camp in Jordan.

NRC is distributing kitchen sets in Azraq camp. Photo: Leen Qashu/NRC


Upgrading his mother’s home

Lutfieh from Syria lives with her sister in a caravan next to her son Issam and his wife and eight children. They have been living in the camp for more than two years. "My mother is an old woman. She needs to stay warm, which means we never turn off the heater. Sometimes we all gather in one caravan to stay warm and to save energy," says Issam. He and his family received household items and winter assistance when they first arrived in the camp.

Photo: Leen Qashu’/NRC

"We are still using these items, they are essential," says Issam. "Most important was the isolation material, as it helped containing the warmth inside the caravan."

During winter, Azraq is windy and it can get very cold. With isolation shields distributed by NRC, people isolate their caravans from rain and wind.

Photo: Leen Qashu’/NRC

Help when needed       

The refugees are Syrian, and have been living in the camp for more than three years. Work opportunities are limited, making it difficult to earn an income and buy essential winter equipment. To support them, NRC, through our partnership with UNHCR, provides residents with USD 155 (JOD 110) in cash assistance, so that they can refill their gas cylinders and buy winter clothes.

Through cash assistance, refugees are free to decide how they want to spend the money they receive according to their household needs. Thanks to NRC advocacy and UNHCR funding, the assistance has gradually shifted from being solely in-kind to also include cash.

We distribute cash support in Azraq camp so that people can buy what they need in time for winter.

"Many refugees are worried about the winter. They worry about how to find warm enough clothes for their children and about their health. Through our assistance, they have fewer worries," says Hamza Abu Salim, who is responsible for distributing cash and household items.

Ibraheem and his best friend and neighbour Hussein, they met at NRC's reception area when they first arrived to the camp. They became best friends since then. Photo: Leen Qashu’/NRC

Syrian father Ibrahim says the money he received came at a critical time. "I had to borrow some money from my best friend, who is also my neighbour, Hussein, to buy winter clothes for my children. I couldn’t wait for the cash distribution as they needed their new winter clothes to go to school. But NRC’s cash distribution came in time, and I paid him back."

Photo: Leen Qashu’/NRC

Hussein also benefited from the winter cash assistance. "I would not have been able to give Ibrahim the money if there were no cash distributions. This programme helps people to help each other. I believe each one of us wants to help the other, but at the same time you need guarantees, and the cash distribution is the best guarantee, it has changed our lives here in a positive way," he says.

You would notice the difference in the market after the cash distribution: it is crowded with people buying new clothes or household items.
Hussein, Syrian refugee living in Jordan's Azraq camp
"New clothes for winter, good health for my children are my priority," says Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan's Azraq camp. Photo: Leen Qashu’/NRC