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Worst snowstorm in a decade highlights desperation of Syria refugees in Lebanon

February 7, 2022 at 12:26 pm

A Syrian child stands barefoot amidst snow in the Syrian refugees camp of al-Hilal in the village of al-Taybeh near Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley on 20 January 2022 [AFP via Getty Images]

As Lebanon emerges from the worst snowstorm in a decade, the impact of the severe weather has underscored the desperate situation for Syrian refugees struggling to survive in Lebanon. 

Roughly 1.5 million refugees live in Lebanon. Aid convoys have struggled to reach the ones living in remote parts of the country during the storms, reports Channel 4, when the army shut down the roads through the mountains.

Their makeshift tents have inadequate roofs, insulation or proper fuel in temperatures which drop below freezing at night.

Lebanon is currently suffering an economic and social meltdown which means that Syrian refugees in the country are bottom of the list of priorities for the government.

READ: Snowfall brings down tents in northern Syria, leaving refugees out in the cold

Rapid inflation has sent prices soaring. According to UNHCR, the economic crisis – exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic – has put 89 per cent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon below the extreme poverty line.

According to Refugee Protection Watch, half of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon do not attend school as there is no space for them, their parents can’t pay for private education and there is no alternative.

Since the beginning of last year, 70 per cent of Syrians in Lebanon have not received any humanitarian assistance.

Some politicians in Lebanon have called on Syrian refugees to go home on the grounds that parts of the country are safe to go home to and to ease the pressure on the Lebanese economy.

This has been echoed by European countries like Denmark which is the first country to revoke Syrian refugees’ residency permits.

However, atrocities are still taking place in the country including enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings and kidnappings of Syrian refugees who have recently returned.