Displaced families in Syria are in peril in their desperation to keep warm. Last week a makeshift kerosene heater exploded at the Bab Salama camp in north Aleppo, burning down two tents and injuring the occupants. UK agency ShelterBox is sending safer heaters into northern Syria.
Idleb in northern Syria is host to hundreds of thousands of families fleeing war, most of them now in vast displacement camps. But the area is also in the grip of an icy winter, with night-time temperatures as low as -9 degrees centigrade.
Some families are huddling in draughty single-room shelters constructed from concrete with tin roofs, with no source of heating and no windows. Others are living under canvas. So, the temptation is to improvise, to burn wood, or to make basic heaters out of tin cans, with naked flames and noxious fumes. The dangers are obvious, and spontaneous fires are frequent in this daily battle against the cold.
So, to minimise fire-related tragedies while warming young hands, UK aid agencies ShelterBox and its in-country partner Hand in Hand for Syria have just distributed 1,000 high-spec kerosene heaters to families in Idleb.
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett will shortly be travelling to the region to check on the charity’s aid programmes in Syria.
Sam says, ‘We typically provide items to help insulate people against the cold. But it’s not always enough, as people need a source of heat as well. By providing heaters such as these people are able to get some comfort and undertake basic household activities such as cooking.’
‘But it also helps to prevent diseases—particularly those related to long-term exposure to cold and damp conditions and noxious fumes—that they would be exposed to from using improvised stoves.’
The 1,000 Diora kerosene cooker/heaters come supplied with fuel, and the families are shown how to use them safely and with proper ventilation.
You can help those displaced by the conflict in Syria by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal here: