THE BLOG
11/12/2013 03:01 GMT | Updated 09/02/2014 05:59 GMT

There's No Place Like Home - Bringing Syrian Children in From the Cold

As the festive period approaches, our thoughts inevitably turn to where we will celebrate and with whom. The lucky ones amongst us will most probably spend time with our families, in a home that we know and love.

Sadly for millions of children in Syria - they no longer have a place to call home.

Just last month I was in Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, where I met dozens of children who have fled the crisis and now live in shacks with nothing but the clothes they arrived in.

I could already feel the bitter snap of winter creeping in and some of the children I saw weren't even wearing shoes. I dread to think how even more terribly cold it must be now, just a few weeks later. And for many refugees of the crisis, this is the third brutal winter they will face in makeshift tents.

One little girl, Reema, who is 12-years-old, told me how scared she was when her family fled their Syrian home in the midst of bombing. Now she is scared of what winter will bring to the refugee camp in Lebanon.

Reema told me: "We have nothing here. We arrived in the summer, with summer clothes. We only had what we could carry. It can get very cold here. In our shelter, we have no heat to help us in the winter."

Temperatures can fall to as low as minus six. In previous winters families have been known to burn their possessions just to stay warm. For little children, struggling against the cold and the wet, the brutality of winter could prove deadly.

I was there when UNICEF began distributing winter clothes to children in their improvised shelters. Children like Reema were given woolly hats, scarves, boots, warm jackets, warm clothes and blankets, which they pulled on straight away.

They are just a few of the close to six million Syrian children, including more than one million refugees, who are in urgent need of aid. UNICEF is in a race against time to reach as many as possible.

In a bid to help, Hollywood and music industry stars have come together to help draw attention to the brutal conditions Syrian children are facing this winter.

UNICEF UK Ambassador, Ewan McGregor, has been joined by fellow actors, Michael Sheen, and Tom Hiddleston, as well as musicians Rita Ora, Tinie Tempah and Emma Bunton, in a compelling short film which urges the UK public to open their eyes to the Syria crisis, drawing on the idea of 'No Place Like Home'.

One 10-year-old boy I spoke to during my time in Lebanon, Ahmed, told me: "I miss my home and my friends. I want to go home." It was truly heartbreaking to hear and emphasises the fact that for the children caught up in the conflict in these winter months, there really is no place like home.

Children continue to pay the heaviest price in the conflict in Syria. We need to act now to bring them in from the cold and deliver vital humanitarian aid. Otherwise, we risk losing an entire generation of children to the crisis.

Up until 31 January 2014, the UK government will match pound for pound all public donations made to UNICEF's work for the children of Syria. Donate at www.unicef.org.uk/syria