Winter clothing for
Syrian children

How does Unicef source warm winter clothing?

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Home > How does Unicef source warm winter clothing for Syrian children?

Why are winter clothes so vital?

It’s winter in Syria, but many families can’t afford basics items like warm clothes for their children. Temperatures are now close to freezing – further punishment for children who’ve been displaced by the conflict, many of whom live in shelters, unfinished buildings or other temporary accommodations.

After nearly six years of war, many families are becoming less resilient, and the number of families who don’t have adequate shelter has notably increased.

This winter in Syria alone, we’re aiming to provide 800,000 winter clothing kits to the most vulnerable children. The kits include a winter jacket, woollen sweater, winter trousers, woollen hat, scarf and gloves, woollen socks, and winter boots. We’re also heating schools, supplying children with school uniforms, running mobile health facilities and delivering vaccines, and providing families with cash assistance so that they can buy most needed supplies for their families.

A partnership involving local associations and the private sector inside Syria is aiding in the production and delivery of a significant portion of the much-needed clothing kits.

Workers at Al Birr Association in Qamishly produce children’s winter clothing for Unicef kits that will go to vulnerable Syrian children this winter. Photo: Unicef/2014/Othman

Workers at Al Birr Association in Quamishli produce children’s winter clothing for Unicef kits that will go to vulnerable Syrian children this winter.
Photo: Unicef/2014/Othman

Supporting a war-ravaged economy

In Hassakeh Governorate, in north-eastern Syria, Unicef has entered into a partnership with a local group, the Al Birr Association, to produce 15,000 clothing kits for children up to the age of 14.

The Al Birr Association was established in 2003 with a goal to provide social services and create employment opportunities. It currently employs 225 women, most of them displaced from other parts of Syria due to the conflict. For many of the women, the salary they are paid is their only source of income.

“We value this new collaboration with Unicef, as it helps us create employment opportunities and market the products locally,” says Ghazawa, mother and plant production manager.

Mervet is a single mother with two children. She has been working at the Al Birr Association’s clothing production plant for 18 months now. “I like my job because it helped me to acquire skills and earn money,” she said. “This is the only source of income I have to support my family.”

Fellow worker and mother, Najah, was forced to flee her home with her family due to the conflict. “We left our home empty-handed, we lost everything,” said Najah. “Last winter was harsh, and the hardest one. We left our home and we were in a bad financial situation. I could not provide warm clothes to my children. This job is good to me. It pays the rent.”

The local partnership supports the economy and is cost-efficient. “Sourcing the clothing locally is faster and more cost effective,” says Eltayeb Adam, from the Unicef office in Qamihsli. “Savings on transportation and warehousing ensure a cost reduction along with timely delivery of the kits by eliminating several layers of the supply chain.”

A woman working for Al Birr Association in Qamishly produces children’s winter clothing. The clothing is being collected into Unicef kits for distribution to vulnerable Syrian children this winter. Photo: Unicef/2014/Othman

A woman working for Al Birr Association in Quamishli produces children’s winter clothing. The clothing is being collected into Unicef kits for distribution to vulnerable Syrian children this winter.
Photo: Unicef/2014/Othman

Children’s health at stake

Conflict-affected children in Syria face increased health risks during the bitter months of winter. Without warm winter clothing, children could be exposed to respiratory infections such as pneumonia, which can spread easily in crowded shelters.

Although a single children’s winter clothing kit costs just £34, this sum is simply out of the reach of many families who have been made vulnerable through displacement and loss of income. Unicef has been distributing warm winter clothing kits for children, heaters for schools, fuel and medical care since November. But urgent additional funding is needed to help us to reach more children to provide them with these necessities to keep them safe and warm throughout the winter months.

Warm children’s footwear, produced by Al Birr Association in Qamishly. The footwear will go into Unicef children’s winter clothing kits for distribution to vulnerable Syrian children. Photo: Unicef/2014/ Othman

Warm children’s footwear, produced by Al Birr Association in Quamishli. The footwear will go into Unicef children’s winter clothing kits for distribution to vulnerable Syrian children.
Photo: Unicef/2014/ Othman

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