4 December 2012
Last updated at 11:53
The charity Save the Children has warned that a lack of funding is hampering international efforts to help Syrian refugees as winter sets in.
More than 400,000 Syrian refugees, half of them children, are now registered with the United Nations in neighbouring countries. The UN is expecting the number of refugees to reach 700,000 by the end of the year. Another 2.5 million people have been displaced within Syria.
Ahmed is a father of five. His family was forced to flee to northern Lebanon when fighting broke out in the city where they lived. He and eight other family members, including his sister, have spent the past year living in an old sheep pen.
It took the family almost 15 days to clean out the shed and make it fit for habitation, but they still depend on open fires for heat. "When we first got here there were no doors or even windows, it was no place to live," Ahmed says. "My son comes to me and says, 'Dad I'm cold, let me sit in your lap until I feel warm'."
Save the Children says there are not enough warm clothes, blankets and shelters to go round. “We left everything behind when we came. We were moving on the streets for three days,” Ahmed says. “We travelled at night. In the mornings we hid, until we reached where we are now.”
Snow and sub-zero temperatures will make conditions much more difficult in the coming weeks. “The situation is bad. Now it’s starting to rain, and the water comes inside," Ahmed adds. "We can’t drink it, but we try to collect it anyway, for washing clothes and dishes. For drinking water, we have to bring water from the river.”
A special fund, co-ordinated by the UN refugee agency, has been set up to help the refugees. But so far it has got little more than half of the money it needs. Ahmed says: “I prefer to live here than die inside Syria - for me and my kids. Of course, I’m not happy staying here... but we’re forced to. Where else can we go?”
Save the Children’s chief executive, Jasmine Whitbread, has called on the international community to match its diplomatic and security concerns with money.