A boy in a yellow hat and green sweater stands in a snow-covered displacement camp in North West Syria.

Children in Idlib, Syria are suffering in freezing temperatures and horrific living conditions, as bombs continue to drop.  Photo credit: Save the Children, February 2020.

'The biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st Century’: Syrian families have nowhere left to run

In recent years, an influx of desperate displaced people has doubled the population of Idlib, Syria to about three million, including one million children. Starting in December 2019, an escalation of violence in Idlib forced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had fled conflict multiple times, to once again run for their lives. 

Now, more than a quarter of the population of Idlib, or more than 900,000 people, have been displaced. Living in open fields covered in snow, exposed to northern Syria’s freezing winter, families and children are facing unimaginable horrors.

The UN has already warned this could be “the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st Century.”

Children Are Dying from Freezing Temperatures

The vast majority of those displaced are children and women who have been forced to flee with just the clothes they are wearing. Huddled in makeshift tents, children as young as 7-months old are dying from freezing temperatures and from asphyxiation and fires as families use heaters in an attempt to stay warm.

Too many of Syria’s children have grown up knowing nothing but war. It’s imaginable to think that families must choose between dying from bombs or dying from the cold, and yet that is the grave reality for so many Syrians. 

A young boy without a coat peeks his head out of a makeshift shelter, erected in an overcrowded camp in Idlib, Syria.


After her family fled their home in Ma'arat Nu'man, in northwest Syria, 10-year old Hayat* and her two young siblings now live together in a tent set up on a playground in Idlib.

Recalling the conflict she and her family lived through, Hayat says, “They were hitting the houses. We were scared. They hit the market.”

“My friends and I used to study,’ she says, “but the school was attacked.”

Now, in Idlib, as Hayat and other children like her continue to bear the brunt of Syria’s nearly 9-yer conflict, support is desperately needed. You can help innocent children recover from the physical and emotional wounds of war.

A young girl stands with her arms folded. Behind her, snow covers the ground and a row of white tents can be seen in the background.


Together, We Can Stop the War on Children
As the world’s leading expert in protecting children in crisis, Save the Children is helping children and families in northwest Syria through partners on the ground. We are providing displaced families with necessities like food rations, blankets and solar lamps.

Thanks to donor support, we are also supporting partners who are running health and nutrition services, child-friendly spaces, education centers and child protection activities.

Your support helps us advocate for global leaders to do more for the world’s children in conflict. Together, we can stop the war on children.

Your donation today to the Syrian Children’s Relief Fund supports this critical work.

*Names changed for protection.


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