The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon on Wednesday published appalling figures revealing the extent of damage caused by the snowstorm that has wrecked the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.
The Commissioner said that the area of Simaqiya in northern Lebanon is the most affected by the winter storm, adding that about 200,000 Syrian refugees were evacuated to mosques and schools.
The UNHCR’s Spokesperson Lisa Abou Khaled said: “Around 66 camps were heavily affected by the storm in Lebanon while 15 were completely destroyed, and 850 camps are at high risk of flooding.”
UNHCR said that 407 tents were completely destroyed and that some 70,000 refugees live in 850 unofficial settlements that are at risk of flooding resulting from the snowstorm Norma that has been battering Lebanon since Monday.
The UNHCR indicated that in Akkar area, 22 refugee settlements were affected by the torrential rain and while four others were completely flooded. It said that 18 settlements were affected by flash flooding, while 77 tents in northern Lebanon were damaged due to heavy wind and rain.
Out of 169 Syrian refugee camps, at least 91 are in urgent need of plastic sheeting due to severe leakage, the UNHCR said, adding that 148 camps are in need of basic relief aid. It said that the heavy rain and snow caused the collapse of settlements which require urgent intervention.
Syrian refugee camps in and around the town of Arsal in eastern Lebanon have been blanketed in snow since Tuesday. Several appeals were issued to rescue the affected refugees suffering freezing temperatures which put the lives of many at huge risk.
Storm Norma, which started on Saturday, hit Lebanon with heavy rain, snowfall and freezing temperatures. The storm devastated Syrian refugee camps as many were completely flooded. Over 30 cm of snow piled up in the Arsal area.
The Syrian Coalition earlier called upon the United Nations to relieve the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, stressing the need to provide them with the necessary support.
According to the UNHCR, more than one million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, mostly in dire conditions along the border with Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)