Superstars of Hollywood and the music industry have voiced grave concerns about the plight of Syrian children facing a third bitterly cold winter in refugee camps.
UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor is joined by fellow actors Michael Sheen and Tom Hiddleston as well as musicians Rita Ora, Tinie Tempah and Emma Bunton, in a short film which aims to encourage the UK public to open their eyes to the Syria crisis.
The film plays on the powerful double meaning of the phrase ‘No Place Like Home’, where home is something that we all hold dear during the festive season, yet millions of children in Syria have no place to call home.
Close to six million Syrian children, including more than one million refugees, are in urgent need of aid. They’re living in desperate conditions and face a bitter few months ahead, when temperatures can fall as low as minus six degrees Celsius. This past January brought the coldest temperatures in more than a decade and UNICEF is very concerned that exposure to these cold and wet conditions could be deadly.
Syrian children have lost their homes, have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa, and are living in refugee camps, in tented settlements and with host communities. The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented. Should tents and latrines be flooded with rain, there is an increased risk from water borne diseases. UNICEF is distributing winter supplies such as warm clothes, boots and blankets as well as supplying clean water and medicine.
Ewan McGregor, UNICEF UK Ambassador, said: “My heart truly goes out to the millions of Syrian children who have lost everything: their families, friends and homes. Facing a third year in a freezing cold camp is no place anyone should call home, let alone a child. I worry that the world is starting to shut its eyes to the Syrian crisis.”
Rita Ora, UNICEF UK supporter, said: “When filming UNICEF’s ‘No Place Like Home’ video I kept thinking of Pristina, my home town in Kosovo. The city has seen its fair share of trouble but thankfully that’s over now. But right now, children in Syria are suffering unspeakable violence, often fleeing their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Now facing a third winter in cold tents, their lives are threatened by the freezing temperatures. UNICEF works in more than 190 countries, from Kosovo to Syria and in all the countries providing refuge to Syrian children. Your donation could help UNICEF buy life-saving winter essentials to help bring children in from the cold.”
UNICEF UK supporter Michael Sheen said: "Last month I travelled to Lebanon with UNICEF and met Syrian children struggling to cope in desperate circumstances. As the bitter winter closes in, they are being pushed to the edge of their physical and psychological endurance. No child should be living like this.
“UNICEF is working to bring children in from the cold this winter, providing basics like warm clothes and blankets as well as working long term to get children back into school so they can rebuild their lives.
“The UK government will match pound for pound any donation made to UNICEF’s Syria winter appeal.”
Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, said: “With the conflict in Syria deep into its third year, children continue to pay the heaviest price. Close to six million Syrian children are in urgent need of aid in what is the largest humanitarian operation in history. Now they face a new threat – winter is here. There is increasing concern for Syrian children caught in the conflict and cut off from supplies. We urgently need to be able to reach every child in Syria. Unless we act now, this generation may be lost forever – with profound long-term consequences for Syria, the region, and beyond.”
Up until 31 January 2014, the UK Government will match pound for pound all public donations made to UNICEF’s work for the children of Syria.
Text WARM to 70111 to give £3 or visit unicef.org.uk.