Monday, 30 January 2017 17:26

Activists Appeal for Humanitarian Action to Save Thousands of Refugees in Camps near Lebanon’s Arsal as Snowstorm Hits

Syrian activists in refugee camps near the town of Arsal in eastern Lebanon launched an online campaign to highlight the suffering of thousands of Syrian refugees in the area which was hit by a snowstorm on Friday.

In addition to severe weather conditions, residents of the camps near Arsal suffer shortages of food and medical supplies amid continued inaction by international humanitarian organizations.

The snowstorm is the second one to hit eastern Lebanon in just two months, affecting over 70,000 Syrian refugees mostly displaced from the Qusiar and western Qalamoun areas in western Syria by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias.

The latest blizzard was the strongest and coldest, activists said, adding that it began on Friday afternoon and intensified on Saturday. Snow has blanketed the camps, with the snowstorm dumping a heavy 70 cm load of snow that stood among the ramshackle tents.

Media activist Thaer Qalamouni told Shaam News Network that refugees suffer lack of heating fuel and life-saving supplies, adding that the snow caused at least three tents to tumble town over the heads of its inhabitants.

Qalamouni warned that the lives of hundreds of families in the camps near Arsal are threatened unless urgent action is taken to respond to the catastrophic conditions resulting from the snowstorm. He urged humanitarian organizations based in the town of Arsal to take immediate action to help dozens of families who are at risk of losing their shelters. The suffering of Syrian refugees in Arsal area further worsened after the UN has stopped the provision of vouchers to buy heating fuel to many households, activists added.

Media activist Abu Aljoud Qalamouni said that they repeatedly appealed to the UN aid agencies to resume the provision of vouchers to the Syrian refugees. He noted that dozens of refugees were injured as their shelters collapsed, while many others have come down with extremely bad flu as a result of the bitter cold. Medical teams have had difficulties in moving the injured and ill to hospitals inside Arsal, he added.

The Syrian Coalition called upon the international community and the Arab countries to assume their responsibilities towards the Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. It said that the tragedy unfolding in refugee camps around Arsal require urgent action, expressing concern that the ongoing snowstorm threatens the lives of thousands of refugees. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Shaam News Network)

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