Iyad and his eight children are losing their battle against the cold in Gaza

In Gaza, winter is the worst time of year. Iyad Ahmed Marouf and his family live in a tiny house with a dirty sand floor. Several of the walls are just corrugated metal sheets. Iyad shares this small space with his wife and eight children.

Iyad says: “We suffer a lot in the winter. The house doesn’t protect us from the winter cold and there’s no means of heating.” Constant power cuts in Gaza leave families with two hours of electricity a day, if they’re lucky. This means that electric heaters are useless, forcing families to light fires to stay warm. Iyad doesn’t have the money to buy firewood so his children scavenge scraps of wood from the road or he breaks up vegetable boxes to warm the house.

A devastating flood

One night, a bout of heavy rainfall flooded Iyad’s tiny house. He woke up to find the roof leaking huge amounts of water from a number of holes. He tried desperately to close the holes but he couldn’t manage to stop freezing water gushing in. The few possessions that the family owned were completely ruined.

Now, Iyad’s children cry constantly because they’re so cold. They can’t light a fire in the flooded house and without a source of warmth, the family is extremely vulnerable to illnesses like pneumonia, that can easily snatch away young lives. The eight children sleep in one room, huddled together under thin blankets. Without nutritious food, warm clothes and a way to heat their home, Iyad’s children may not survive the winter.

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Iyad’s family is not alone

UNOCHA is predicting that more than 560,000 people are at risk of flooding in the Gaza Strip alone this winter. The cold weather brings with it the threats of temporary displacement, health risks and loss of property due to flooding and the poor condition of the houses in this area.

Families like Iyad’s in Palestine are still suffering from the devastation caused by the 2014 conflict. Many homes were damaged or completely destroyed, displacing civilian households and forcing them to live in makeshift shelters like Iyad’s home. Life is already difficult for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, but in the winter months, it can become unbearable.

Millions of people don’t have access to clean running water, as more than 95% of the water from Gaza’s sole aquifer is unfit for human consumption and carries water-borne diseases. If Palestinian families succumb to illness in winter, the cold weather will put them further at risk and can slow or prevent their recovery, particularly if they can’t keep warm or find nutritious food to eat.

Gaza’s entire infrastructure is facing collapse due to the effects of conflict, lack of investment and ongoing restrictions on imports. In 2012, the UN predicted that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, but the deterioration is happening much more quickly than anyone could’ve foreseen.

The people of Gaza need your help this winter

Our Human Appeal teams are working tirelessly in Gaza to provide vulnerable families with humanitarian aid. This winter, we need your help to reach as many people as possible.

£250 will provide a family with shelter essentials so they can waterproof their home and prevent flooding. You can keep a family like Iyad’s warm and dry in the toughest months of the year. £165 will buy winter survival essentials like warm clothing, blankets, nutritious food and fuel, giving a vulnerable family the defences they need against the winter cold. Just £65 will feed a family of four or a whole month.

Together, we can stop winter killing today.

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