Wednesday 9 January 2019

Syrian refugees have been left stranded in freezing temperatures as the first heavy snowstorm of the year takes hold across large parts of Lebanon.

Children in tented settlements are struggling to keep warm while thousands of families are resorting to basic tools to keep their tents dry without success. The floods inundated hundreds of tented settlements in different parts of Lebanon on Wednesday, as Storm ‘Norma’ showed no signs of abating.

Flimsy shelters and tents that families have taken for home cannot resist the weather elements. As temperatures fall rapidly, there is a fear that many won’t be able to power through. In the Bekaa Valley, initial figures suggest that 18 informal settlements have been completely flooded as of Wednesday 9 January.

Refugees face a long winter as they try to cope with the immediate consequences of the first blizzard. In Bar Elias, Bekaa, children have been evacuated as families appealed for immediate help.

A mother of five, whose three sons and two daughters have been relocated to a local centre, said, “There is nothing left for us to hope for. We have lost everything in just two hours, as if it was not enough to lose our homes in Syria.

“I have sent the children away to the centre. I don’t want food. I don’t want water. I just want a warm place for them.”

Save the Children’s Shelter teams are on the ground assisting families to cope with the atrocious conditions. With support from partners, we are providing emergency relief to reinforce the shelters and remove floodwater.

Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon said, “At a time when we all appreciate the warmth of our homes, it is crucial that we also think of the thousands of refugee families suffering in the freezing temperatures and struggling to survive.

“The thin roofs over their heads are waiting to collapse under the heavy rainfall. The corners of their tents have been flooded. I don’t think anyone would contemplate staying in such conditions for even a short time.”

In spite of all efforts by humanitarian agencies, there is still a large gap in financial resources, which threatens to leave thousands of families behind. Save the Children calls on donors to help protect children at risk of illness and displacement and help their families cope with what promises to be a long winter season.


Photos are available on this link:

Notes to editors:

•        Save the Children’s Shelter teams are on the ground responding to the emergency and providing affected families with urgent support.

•         An initial assessment has been carried out across dozens of informal settlements in Bekaa and North Lebanon.

•        Supported by the UNHCR, Save the Children will be providing support for refugees hit by the storm:

-          Medium Repair Kits (MRK) and Light Repair Kits (LRK): Plastic sheets, timber wood, and installation toolkits to repair damaged tents.

-          New Arrival Kits (NAK): New tents with installation toolkits to replace tents lost in the storm.

-          Floor Raising Kits: For partially damaged tents to help prevent additional flooding.


For media requests contact:

Aliaa Awada, Save the Children Media Advocacy and Communications Manager

+961 70 001534

Ahmed Bayram, Save the Children Media Advocacy and Communications Coordinator

+961 71 562855