Feature: Helpless Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffer from heavy snow storm

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-09 01:25:21|Editor: WX
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A refugee woman walks in flood water at a Syrian refugee camp on the outskirts of Tripoli, Lebanon, Jan. 8, 2019. The Syrian refugees living in tents in Lebanon suffered more as a big storm, dubbed Norma, is causing heavy damages in many areas of the country. (Xinhua/Khalid)

BEKAA, Lebanon, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Jamal Abou el Hassouna, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, has to work hard every morning with his children to remove the thick snow that threatens to destroy their seven-year-old tents in the refugee camp in the mountains of Qaraoun.

"The snow was more than 30 cm high this year. We fear it could cause our tents to collapse," Hassouna told Xinhua.

Jihan, another refugee from Syria's Idlib, said she spent all night in fixating her tent with stones in order to protect it from the strong wind.

She also set fire to shoes, plastic and rubber tires to keep warm and avoid dying from the cold weather, added Jihan, who did not reveal her full name.

Meanwhile, Ahmad El Maghribi, who works for one of the international organizations dedicated to refugees, said the snow storm collapsed dozens of refugee tents in several camps in the Bekaa Valley, while rainwater swept away tents in more than one area.

A big storm, dubbed Norma, hit Lebanon on Sunday, causing heavy damage in several areas of the country, and according to weather experts, is expected to subside on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a report issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 50,000 refugees living in around 850 settlements in Lebanon could be affected by the storm until Monday.

At least 66 informal settlements have been found badly impacted, while around 300 refugees have so far been relocated, the report said.

Lebanon hosts more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees including 900,000 registered with the (UNHCR).

There are no official camps in Lebanon for Syrian refugees, who have to live in tents lacking the necessary conditions for a decent life.

Around 6,300 camps in Lebanon, each consisting of 20 to 150 tents. One tent hosts four to 12 people.

"The crisis of refugees living in non-equipped camps in Lebanon has been further exacerbated with the eruption of the snow storm," said Saida Ammash, a relief worker in displacement camps.

Refugees also complained about the lack of help from the international community.

"I hold the international organizations accountable for exposing my kids to death and starvation due to the cold weather and lack of food," said Abou Moujahed Shawish.

Shahima abou Al Nouhi from Deir El Zour said she stayed awake with her kids at night, and did not "have any hope to receive strong tents that can stand against wind and rain from international organizations."

Zarif Abou Hussein, another refugee, said he could only secure some bread and 10 liters of fuel which are not enough to overcome the harsh circumstances.

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