Refugee camp (illustrative)
Refugee camp (illustrative) Israel news photo: Flash 90

Three Syrian children have died of cold in the Alzaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Al-Jazeera reports. Activists said the cold is likely to claim more victims if help does not come soon.

Many are living in tents with no heating units, activists say. Some fled their homes in summer and have only the thin summer clothes they were wearing at the time to protect them from the cold.

Officials in charge of the camp claimed the children were killed by disease, not cold.

It is difficult to determine what is really going on in many of the refugee camps due to an internet blackout in Syria.

International aid groups have warned of the danger to Syrian refugees. United Nations officials say that more than one million of the refugees, internally displaced within Syria, remain out of reach of aid efforts due to war. The refugee population outside Syria is soaring as well.

The UN is also arguing lack of resources. It has raised just over one-third of an estimated $487 needed to assist the roughly 1.6 million Syrian refugees displaced by civil war.

Jordan and Turkey are also seeking international assistance dealing with the growing Syrian refugee population within their borders. Both countries are conducting their own fundraising outside the framework of the UN.

At the same time, the UN’s Relief and Works Agency, which focuses on the descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, has a budget of $1.3 billion for the upcoming year, according to the UN website. The UN has a unique definition of “refugee” for that population, giving support “until a just and durable solution is found to the refugee issue” and not only until refugees are resettled in a new home.

Most of its budget goes to help the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who originally fled, who live in “refugee camps” identical to modern cities.

The disproportionate investment in “Palestinian refugees” has led Israeli officials to accuse the UN of perpetuating their status rather than seeking a real solution. Other countries have questioned the practice as well: the U.S. Senate recently came up with its own definition of “Palestinian refugee,” reducing the “refugee” population from 5 million to 30,000, Canada decided to stop funding the agency due to its “unique definition of refugees” that lends support to “an obstacle to peace,” and Holland has reviewed its funding as well.