Refugees prepare for winter with Zaatari’s largest ever distribution

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is distributing cash-for-gas to help Syrian refugees in Jordan’s Zaatari camp to prepare for winter. We’re supporting tens of thousands of families in what is the largest distribution in the camp’s history.

Record cash distribution

Winter conditions in Jordan can be harsh. With freezing temperatures, strong winds and heavy rain, families need proper preparations to survive the season.

Zaatari camp, in the north of the country, is home to more than 75,000 Syrian refugees. To help them prepare for winter, NRC is distributing cash assistance in partnership with the UN refugee agency.

Read caption At the distribution centre, each recipient undergoes an iris scan to make sure everyone receives the assistance they are entitled to. Photo: Leen Qashu/NRC

The cash covers each family’s heating gas needs for the five months of winter. Worth 3.3 million Jordanian Dinars in total (about USD 4.6 million), it is by far the biggest cash distribution in the seven-year history of Zaatari camp.

Keeping cold and mould at bay

Ayham Al-Deek, 34, from Damascus, and his wife have three children and are expecting the birth of their fourth child next month. They have been living in Zaatari camp since March 2014 and have been receiving assistance through our centre for the past five years.

In addition to the cash assistance, Ayham received plastic sheeting earlier this month, enabling him to waterproof his family’s shelter.

Zaatari Refugee Camp,
27 November 2019
Photos by: Leen Qashu/ NRC
Read caption Ayham collects his plastic sheeting, which he needs to waterproof his family’s shelter. Photo: Leen Qashu/NRC

When the first heavy showers declared the start of winter season a few weeks ago, Ayham worried about the effects of cold and mould on his children’s and expectant wife’s wellbeing. He had to take the carpets, mattresses and furniture outside the shelter to air-dry them after they were soaked with rainwater one night. Thankfully, this kind of problem is now solved with the plastic sheeting.

Winter warmth the top priority

Adnan, Ayham’s eldest son, was just four years old when the family fled Syria. Like many children, he has suffered as a result of his experiences.

Zaatari Refugee Camp,
27 November 2019
Photos by: Leen Qashu/ NRC
Read caption Ayham’s son, Adnan (right), used to have panic attacks whenever he heard an airstrike back home in Syria. Photo: Leen Qashu/NRC

“My son had panic attacks and his legs would be paralysed whenever an airstrike landed near us. To this day, he has an involuntary urination problem,” Ayham explains. “The living conditions back in Syria were dire. We had to leave for the sake of our children.”

He concludes: “My top priority is to keep my family and my child that is yet to be born warm. The baby will not be able to handle this cold.”


At NRC, we continue to look for ways to improve our response for displaced Syrian refugees in Jordan. With the winter season coming up, it is our priority to make sure they stay warm.

Read more about our work in Jordan