Thirteen Syrians, including five children and women, froze to death crossing into Lebanon when an icy storm hit a smuggling route in the mountains near a border post with Syria on Friday.
A Syrian activist in Lebanon told Smart News Network that the Lebanese army found the bodies of the refugees on a people-smuggling route on the outskirts of the Bekaa town of Suweiri to the south of the Masnaa border crossing in the early hours of Friday and took them to hospitals in the Bekaa area.
The spot where the deceased were discovered is just two-hour walk from the town of Suweiri in normal weather conditions, the activist said, but their journey coincided with the peak of the icy storm that has battered the region in recent days.
A Lebanese General Security source said that the bodies were part of a group of around 30 Syrian refugees who were trying to cross into Lebanon through the Suweiri mountains.
In response to the tragic incident, the municipality of the town of Majdal Anjar held a sit-in which saw the participation of Mayor Said Hussein Yassin and Head of the Islamic Endowments Department in the Bekaa area Mohammed Abdul Rahman. Participants called on the Lebanese authorities “not to leave Syrian refugees at the mercy of smugglers” and to facilitate their legitimate entry into Lebanon.
Syrian refugees living in camps in some neighboring countries and in camps inside Syria are most affected by rainstorms and snowstorms that cause severe damage to tents and deaths among children and the elderly. Severe weather conditions further exacerbate the suffering of Syrian refugees and IDPs, especially with lack of heating equipment and basic services.
A joint study conducted by UN agencies published on January revealed that 58 per cent of Syrian households in Lebanon are now living in extreme poverty and that around 76 per cent live below the poverty line.
Lebanese media outlets said that authorities are still searching for other refugees near the border area, raising the possibility of finding other bodies with whom contact was lost while trying to cross into Lebanon using people-smuggling routes. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Smart News Network)