Syria's Refugees Not Hoping for a White Christmas This Year

04/12/2014 16:35 GMT | Updated 01/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Only a week ago, I sat squashed into a tent filled with a family of fourteen Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon - surprised that even that much body heat could not thaw the freezing cold I felt.

The harshest, coldest months are closing in - December through to March. As we drove across the mountain pass towards the camp we saw snow, freshly fallen. In a few weeks their tent will be blanketed in snow - a thoroughly unwelcome 'White Christmas'.

And so today, I open the newspaper to read that this winter, the United Nations will suspend their food programme to Syrian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

With five simultaneous emergencies to contend for cash - Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Ebola outbreak - Syria's refugees are suffering the shortfall.

This is a disaster. An absolute matter of life and death. Just days before I arrived, we got news two babies had died of the cold in one of the refugee camps.

Food, fuel, blankets and stoves are key to the survival of these families. Many refugees are living in informal camps, on damp fields, where they are ill-prepared for a harsh winter.

Our local partner organisations know that getting families through winter is a massive priority, and they are working tirelessly to do it.

While I was in Lebanon I was lucky enough to meet a young pastor who leads a growing Baptist church of around 200 in the valley.

With the help of a Tearfund local partner, this single church is serving 8,000 refugees through a primary school and a food distribution programme.

The school is full with 300 children. Were it not for the church, these children would have no education, no safe space and no opportunities.

Every Saturday the church distributes food to 1,200 families from a small warehouse. As winter descends on the camps, they will begin a 'winterisation' programme - giving out blankets, clothes and mattresses.

There's no doubt at all in my mind that, without this support, thousands of children would not survive the winter. And without the school, they would not only be without food, but also without hope.

But this is just a small percentage of the millions affected by the Syrian conflict. With no end in sight, it is crucial that humanitarian needs are met. This is not just for the refugees themselves: the countries hosting them also need support as their populations swell. Donors must make good on their pledges and dig deep, especially as this bleak midwinter approaches, to ensure vital aid programmes can continue.