Refugees – ‘Real risk’ of refugees freezing to death in Syria after rains destroy shelters

As temperatures fall, aid workers warn of danger to at least 11,000 people across Idlib, with storms also battering camps in Lebanon

Rebecca Ratcliffe
Sat 12 Jan 2019


Damage caused by flash floods at Atma refugee camp in Idlib, in late December. Temperatures there have now dropped below freezing. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At least 11,000 child refugees and their families are facing a weekend of freezing temperatures with no shelter, after torrential rains across Syria’s Idlib province swept away tents and belongings.

Aid workers warn there is a real risk people will simply freeze to death as temperatures have already dropped to -1C, amid a shortage of blankets and heating fuel.

The shelters of Syrian refugees inside Lebanon have also been battered by high winds, rain and snow this week, according to UNHCR, which says 361 sites have been affected.

Camps in the border town of Arsal have been buried in snow, while settlements in the central and west Bekaa areas, where there has been heavy flooding, have experienced even worse damage. It is forecast that rains will begin again on Sunday.

On Thursday, the UN confirmed an eight-year-old Syrian girl died in Lebanon after slipping and falling into a river during the storm.
In north-west Syria, Save the Children is distributing plastic sheeting to displaced families. Caroline Anning, Syria advocacy and communications manager for the charity, said there were cases of babies freezing to death last year, and added that more people are vulnerable this winter.



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