The plight of refugees in winter

For all displaced people in the region, the humanitarian situation is untenable.
Sunday 13/01/2019
A Syrian child uses a bucket to bale out water from his tent in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (AFP)
Yearly struggle. A Syrian child uses a bucket to bale out water from his tent in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (AFP)

As expected, refugees in Lebanon and other countries of the Middle East and the Mediterranean are having a tough time dealing with worsening conditions this winter.

Heavy rain and snow have damaged many of the precariously built “informal settlements” where Syrian refugees live in Lebanon. In Arsal, a mountainous area in northern Lebanon, the roofs of rudimentary shacks collapsed under the weight of the snow.

One refugee told Agence France-Presse on January 8: “There’s no food, no bread and the road has been closed since yesterday.”

UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled said: “Across Lebanon, at least 66 informal settlements have been found heavily impacted by the flooding, 15 of which have completely flooded or collapsed.”

“UNHCR and partners estimate that approximately 850 informal settlements, hosting 50,000 refugees, are at risk of flooding,” she added.

The displaced population within Syria is also suffering from the bad weather conditions. Refugee camps in Idlib province were flooded.

For all displaced people in the region, the humanitarian situation is untenable. About half of Syria’s population has been displaced and 5 million live in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere. More than 70% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and 95% of those in Jordan live below the poverty level.

Conditions remain dire in the overcrowded camps of the Greek islands where about 15,000 migrants are stranded with no option to move to the mainland. About 5,000 refugees are jammed into Moria camp, Greece’s largest, on the island of Lesbos. Conditions in Moria have been condemned as inhumane.

6