Snow storms Norma and Miriam have caused extensive damage over the last week: collapsed tents, blocked roads — all plunged deep under snow. Strong winds and abundant rain and snow have plagued the Bekaa Valley, where Action Against Hunger works. More than 350,000 Syrian refugees live in makeshift camps, and the number has increased since last year.
Action Against Hunger teams have mobilized to respond to the most immediate needs. The teams are working around the clock to remove snow from camps and roads and are also distributing necessities against the cold.
“Numerous tents where refugees live have suffered damage from the storms, where winds have reached over 100 kilometres per hour,” says Marcial Rodríguez, coordinator of Action Against Hunger in Zahle. “The snow is difficult to remove from the roofs because of their weak structures. We are, however, providing plastic covers to families to protect their tents from the wind.”
“These refugees simply do not have the means to cope with such extreme weather conditions and depend on the support of organizations like Action Against Hunger,” says Beatriz Navarro, director of the organization in Lebanon. “We are working on multiple fronts: we are draining the water from the flooded areas by means of water pumps and closing affected latrines to prevent the contamination of flooded areas with sewage. At the same time, we are distributing mattresses, blankets, hygiene and baby items, waterproof clothing, snow removal kits, and we are working hand in hand with affected municipalities to remove snow from roads to settlements so our teams can access those in need as soon as possible.”
“Unexpected events like these storms cause dire consequences for an already extremely vulnerable population who cannot bear an increase in debt and the exhaustion of their limited resources. Not to mention the psychological pressure on the population, many of whom have been displaced for more than seven years “concludes Beatriz Navarro.
Action Against Hunger has been working in Lebanon since 2006 to strengthen the resilience of Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese populations. Since 2011, we have been one of the main organizations supporting Syrian refugees in the country.