Four million people have fled into neighbouring countries – 80% of these refugees are women and children.
Taking care of an average of five to six people, Syrian women are often the head of their household, barely able to afford shelter, food and medical care for their families.
barely able to afford shelter, food and medical care for their families.
Lack of money forces Syrian women and their families to live in unsafe, overcrowded environments without basic amenities or security.
Amina and her family fled Syria when shelling began and a car bomb exploded near to their home. Amina was three months pregnant when they left Syria and after three months living in the camp her waters broke.
“I went to the health centre and they took me straight to hospital.
“I went to the health centre and they took me straight to hospital. Those 10 days took me to the six month mark and I think that made the difference. It gave my son a much higher change of survival.”
Baby Muhammed was born premature and was immediately placed in an incubator. “They said if you take him back to a tent he will die,” Amina says.
When Muhammed was allowed out of hospital, UNHCR provided a special shelter ensuring he remained warm and protected from the cold winter. “People were not allowed in unless they had a mask on.
The doctor said that you musn’t breath on him as his immune system is so weak. He'll be spoiled now as he has had a tent just to himself!” Amina jokes.
Amina and her family are grateful for the support that they have received, without which it is likely Muhammed would not have survived. Many other Syrian refugee mothers are not so lucky. Shaden is one such mother living with this burden. Shaden is five months pregnant, living in a bare room in a Beirut suburb with her three small children.
Her parents, husband and other relatives are still in Syria. Shaden has no source of income. She is fearful of being thrown out of her room but most of all, she is fearful of giving birth alone.
“Who will take care of my children when I am in the hospital? If something happens to me, what will happen to my children?”
*Name changed for protection reasons.
16,000 PEOPLE LIVING IN FEMALE-HEADED REFUGEE HOUSEHOLDS HAVE SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS.
1 in 5
ALMOST 30% OF SYRIAN REFUGEE WOMEN ARE OF REPRODUCTIVE AGE. ONE IN FIVE OF THESE WOMEN ARE ESTIMATED TO BE PREGNANT.
40% OF SYRIAN REFUGEES LIVE IN SUB-STANDARD SHELTERS SUCH AS UNFINISHED HOUSES AND GARAGES, OR QUICKLY CONSTRUCTED SHELTERS.
UNHCR runs programmes in Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt to provide refugees in urban centres with accommodation or rental assistance to improve their safety and living conditions.
Female heads of households are considered a priority group to receive this support. Safe and hygienic living conditions allow women and their children, particularly newborns, to remain healthy in difficult circumstances.
UN agencies and partner organisations are also working to improve Syrian refugees’ access to health services, such as through the provision of transportation and financial support in emergency medical situations.
This is particularly vital for pregnant women, who need frequent access to pre and post natal care as well as qualified medical support during labour.
UNHCR provides work training and education to Syrian women refugees, helping them find work and earn a steady income. With this income they can afford safe and clean housing for their families.