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Syrian refugees hit by snow storm
With hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees badly affected by snow storms in the Bekaa Valley, Action Against Hunger teams race to help
Beirut, 13 January 2015
Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley are enduring treacherous winter conditions following the Zina snow storm.
Action Against Hunger is working around the clock to support Syrian refugees worst affected by the storm, which brought snow and high winds. While most refugees in Lebanon live in apartments or houses, around 28 per cent live in informal tented settlements, unfinished buildings, or other makeshift shelter.
Given the extreme vulnerability of the population already, when the storm hit Action Against Hunger Zahle-based teams immediately assessed needs in several of the informal tented settlements. What they found was worrying.
Many of the refugees’ tents have been damaged by the storm – roofs collapsed under the weight of snow, leaving families inside unable to protect themselves from the wind and freezing temperatures. Some tents have been completely destroyed, forcing people to seek refuge with neighbours.
Having witnessed the urgent needs, our teams got to work immediately, though the harsh weather conditions have made reaching those worst affected a challenge.
Rui Oliveira, Country Director of Action Against Hunger in Lebanon, said: “It was urgent to rid the tents of snow. We distributed drainage kits to remove all the water and jerry cans to the refugees so they can stock up on drinking water”.
Within the first three days, 37 drainage kits containing wheelbarrows, spades, rakes and other emergency tools, as well as 432 jerry cans, were distributed to 2,746 people.
“Although there were significant challenges in order to reach the most affected areas due to the harsh weather conditions, we were able to provide a quick response and started distribution promptly”, added Oliveira.
In the coming days, Action Against Hunger will continue its distributions and adapt its response to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
Elsewhere in the region
In Iraqi Kurdistan, hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees are also struggling to cope with the harsh weather and deluge of snow, particularly in the north.
Action Against Hunger has conducted an initial distribution of winter clothing in the Garmawa camp, Dohuk, where those internally displaced by the violence are staying. A new distribution is also planned for the city of Zakho.
Action Against Hunger is working to support Syrians in need in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Image: Florian Seriex for Action Against Hunger