Entertainment News

  • 4 December 2013, 10:11

Downton Star Meets 'Devastated' Syrian Refugees

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery has visited refugees living in Jordan to launch Oxfam's 12 Days of Giving appeal for victims of the Syrian war.

Oxfam is aiming to raise £1m for the emergency response to the crisis.

In a video made during her visit last month, Dockery highlights the needs of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees as the worst of the winter approaches.

Many only have the summer clothes they were wearing when they fled the conflict.

Dockery, who plays Lady Mary in Downton, told Sky News: "It's devastating the impact the war is having on refugees in Jordan.

"I met many families in camps and more formal settlements outside of (the capital) Amman.

"When I was there the nights were getting colder. Most families have just a thin blanket each and they are lying on very thin mattresses.

"The conditions in the informal settlements are more worrying. One I went to the tents were on what looked like a building site.

"There was glass everywhere and it's so dangerous for children."

The United Nations has registered more than 2.2 million refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria - mostly to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt - since fighting began in 2011.

Millions of others are believed to have been forced from their homes and moved elsewhere inside the country.

Donations can made on the Oxfam website. The Government has promised to match every £1 given.

Oxfam said the money raised through the appeal would be used to buy winter kits for the refugees. 

For those living in flats the kits will include blankets and gas heaters with enough fuel for four months.

Those in tents will receive blankets and plastic sheeting to help protect the tents better from the rain and snow.

Unicef said the situation was especially precarious in Lebanon, where thousands of families are living in informal tent settlements on flood-prone land.

"Should tents and latrines be flooded with rain, there is an increased risk of exposure to waterborne diseases," it said.

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has urged the UN Security Council to press the Syrian government to allow greater access to civilians trapped in areas aid agencies cannot reach.

She said: "The brutality of this conflict is unacceptable. Even war has rules. In this conflict, the rules are not being respected. Holding civilians hostage to the conflict is not acceptable."

Ms Amos demanded a number of measures, including that the Syrian government lift obstacles to issuing visas for international aid workers.

The UN estimates that about 6.8 million people in Syria need assistance with food, medical supplies and other necessities.

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