A bitter winter is coming: Pray for vulnerable Syrian refugee children

This Christmas, join us in praying for children deeply affected by the crisis in Syria. The brutal cold of winter has arrived, and more than 1 million Syrian refugee children and their families are in dire need of life-saving assistance.

By Lauren Fisher and Denise Koenig, World Vision U.S.
Published December 10, 2013 at 12:45pm PST

In Jordan, they have a saying for late December to February. They call it “the 40 days” — a season of cold and rain.

Za’atari is the main refugee camp in Jordan. Near the northern border with Syria, it is home to about 114,000 Syrian refugees — twice the number it was designed to accommodate.

Winter is now upon the region and families desperately need heating fuel, stoves, blankets, and other necessities to keep warm and nourished.

Winter brings fear

Nouras is a 20-month-old toddler, scampering from place to place. He flits about, crying one moment because he wants the tea the adults are drinking and laughing the next when he kicks his bouncy ball.

With another little one on the way, parents Anwar and Salam have their hands full. But, it’s the coming cold weather that keeps them up at night. They live in Jordan’s Za’atari camp in a small metal trailer.

“I am scared,” Anwar, the father, says. “The weather is getting colder.”

Salam smiles when she talks about the pregnancy. But her smile quickly passes when asked if she’s worried.

“I am a little bit scared,” she says. “Every woman who is pregnant here is a bit scared. The most frightening part is afterwards, with a newborn — the cold weather, the food, and the condition of the food, and wondering if it will all be okay for the baby.”

Pray for refugee families like Anwar, Salam, and Nouras who are at risk this winter. Families living in tents or dilapidated structures are particularly vulnerable.

Pray with us

Lord, have mercy on those who have no warm place to stay. Provide desperate families with ample resources to stay warm and survive the winter cold. Infuse aid organizations with extra supplies to meet their variety of needs. Lord, we trust in You.

Violence forces millions forced from their homes

The conflict in Syria has displaced more than 6.5 million people within the country and caused more than 2.2 million refugees to seek safety in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and elsewhere.

More than 120,000 lives have been lost since the conflict began more than two years ago, and many have been injured. Homes and businesses are being destroyed in the violence.

Pray with us

Lord, Psalm 46:9 declares that You “make wars cease to the ends of the earth.” Help those in conflict with one another to come to a peaceful solution, so that civilians may resume their daily lives. Lord, we trust in You.

1 million refugee children

The number of Syrian child refugees now exceeds 1 million.

Many Syrian school-aged children are not able to attend classes because they’ve left their communities or because their schools are damaged or occupied by displaced families.

Child refugees find it difficult to enroll and participate in classes that are not in their native language.

Pray with us

Lord, You know that children whose educations are disrupted often have a hard time catching up. This threatens their future prospects to have a career and care for a family.

We ask You to help children who are missing classes today. Help them to resume their studies with ease. And give teachers the training to help these students regain what they may have lost. Lord, we trust in You.

Children threatened by polio

In October, polio was detected in Syria. The disease threatens refugee children throughout the region, though a massive immunization campaign has been launched to avert its spread.

Because of poor living conditions and lack of preventive care, many refugee children already suffer from diarrhea or respiratory diseases.

Pray with us

Lord, bring health and healing to children and their families whose lives are disrupted by conflict in Syria. Strengthen the resolve of humanitarian groups and the international community to provide them with life-saving aid. Lord, we trust in You.

Our response

World Vision first responded in Lebanon just months after the crisis erupted in March 2011. Since then, World Vision has expanded its response to Jordan and Syria, and to date has helped more than 290,000 people.

Our work with refugees in host countries has included:

  • The provision of basic aid items, food, water, and sanitation to protect children from disease
  • Remedial education through catch-up classes, enabling children to return to school despite all the classroom time they’ve missed
  • Child-Friendly Spaces, giving children safe spaces to play, learn, and process their experiences

In Za’atari, World Vision plans to dig drainage ditches to help prevent flooding, and provide items like baby clothes or winter coats to families in need.

In the meantime, those in Za’atari hope that “the 40 days” are not more than their families can take.

Pray for World Vision staff members

World Vision staff members in Lebanon have requested prayer as they assist those fleeing the conflict and other poor communities. All humanitarian personnel need the strength and resources to sustain them in their work.

Lord, thank You for those who are already working with poor communities in this region. Many people had few resources before the conflict began and have even less now. Strengthen humanitarian staff, both World Vision and others, as they assist children and families in need. Bring in the financial resources and physical supplies necessary to help children and restore people’s hope for a brighter future. Lord, we trust in You.

Other ways you can respond

Learn more about the crisis in Syria and neighboring countries. Read our FAQs for an overview of the conflict in Syria, the refugee situation in Lebanon, and World Vision’s response.

Check out our continued coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis on the World Vision Blog and in World Vision Magazine.

Make a one-time gift to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.


Join us in prayer:

  • Pray for protection for displaced Syrian families, especially as winter approaches.
  • Pray for affected children whose education is being disrupted.
  • Pray for children vulnerable to diseases like polio, diarrhea, and respiratory infections.
  • Pray for World Vision staff members.


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