Sunday, 15 December 2013

Help UNICEF bring children in from the cold this winter

Let me ask you a question. What did you spend £3 on today? The Sunday papers or your favourite magazine? An extra couple of stocking fillers to keep your kids happy? A silly Santa hat? A selection box, a cream cake or maybe a nice bottle of wine to go with your Sunday roast? Well, how about spending £3 on something really worthy by texting WARM to 70111 to give £3 to UNICEF to help bring Syrian children in from the cold?

UNICEF launched their Syria Winter Appeal last week to highlight the plight of children in Syria in the run up to Christmas and beyond, as it continues to get colder. Without shelter or supplies, winter can be fatal for children so they desperately need warm clothes and blankets to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

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, that you can see below,  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.

The story that really brought it home for me was that of Reema, who you can see in the top picture and also the video. She's 12, which is exactly the same age as Sophie, but while my daughter is asking if she can stay up late to see One Direction at an awards ceremony on TV and squealing in delight when her friend texts her a cool photo of her Christmas tree, Reema is wondering if she's going to have to spend the bitterly cold winter in a skimpy T-shirt because it's all she owns.

Up until 31st January 2014, the UK Government will match pound for pound all public donations made to UNICEF’s work for the children of Syria so there really is no better time to get involved. Maybe you could send e-cards instead of Christmas cards and donate the money to UNICEF instead. Email your friends and tell them what you've done - that would make me feel a whole lot happier than receiving a card through the post, that's for sure.

Text WARM to 70111 to give £3 or visit

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