The impact of climate change on Syrian refugee camps

For immediate release
21 September, 2022

Chicago – MedGlobal has released an advocacy report to raise awareness on the manifold impact of climate change on the health of displaced persons. Titled ‘Climate change, war, displacement and health: the impact on Syrian refugee camps’, the report focuses on Syrian refugees living in Syria and Lebanon and is novel in that it mainly discusses extreme winter weather.

The report is authored by University of Washington students Lucas Gillespie, Cindy Au, and Divya Rao and it was possible thanks to the support of MedGlobal Field Offices in Syria and Lebanon. The document offers a background of the different climate issues that impact the health of displaced populations as well as a review of MedGlobal work in Syrian internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugee camps in both Syria and Lebanon. Furthermore, it investigates the key needs of those populations and offers recommendations on how to address them.

MedGlobal, in collaboration with University of Washington, identify three priority areas for addressing the needs of people in camp settings:
1. Winterize camp infrastructure and improve camp health services
2. Strengthen the distribution of materials
3. Increase the prioritization of climate change and refugee related issues.

Key recommendations are formulated both to non-governmental organizations (NGOs)/nonprofit organizations as well as to politicians, control holders, decision-makers, and the international community. The role of all those stakeholders is paramount in preventing the harsher effects of adverse climate conditions, particularly before the winter arrives. Hence, preparations for the
winter of 2022-2023 must begin now with sweeping interventions and policies that consider every contributor to the health and wellbeing of IDP and refugees.

“Most camps in Arsal, Lebanon suffer very badly. One of the camps we supported in Lebanon (Um Al Qura) is 1000m above sea level! This winter the temperatures in the camps dropped below – 10 degrees Celsius at night, contributing to a lot of suffering with elderly and children getting sick in times that the country lacks heating fuel, medicine and basic resources. As in most camps around the world, the suffering here is real and worsens by the day with the continuous collapse of the Lebanese state. Supporting these camps with basic necessities such as food, heat and medicine is more pressing than ever in these dark times…” said Dr. Tania Baban, Lebanon Country Representative, MedGlobal.

MedGlobal has been working in Syria since 2017 in cooperation with several partners, including the Turkish Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). It has provided free primary healthcare for over 10,500 patients per month, free medication for over 10,800 patients per month and benefitted over 39,000 patients from two oxygen generators. In Lebanon, MedGlobal has been serving refugees, IDP, and other vulnerable communities since 2018, providing over 400 families with heating oil and donating over 60,000 liters of fuel to four healthcare facilities in 2022.

MedGlobal is a humanitarian and health non-governmental organization (NGO) working to serve vulnerable communities around the world by providing innovative, free, and sustainable healthcare. Our health services support refugees, displaced persons, and other marginalized communities in conflict-affected and low-resource settings around the world. Learn more about our response for Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh emergencies.