Nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees are struggling to adapt to harsh winter weather conditions in the border town of Arsal, in northern Bekaa, Lebanon. For many refugees, this is their eighth winter displaced from their homes, and some say it is the worst yet in Lebanon.
Since May, many Syrians who have settled in the area have been forced to comply with new regulations and to dismantle the homes they had built. These families now live in shelters constructed of plywood and plastic sheets, which are not suitable for harsh and extreme weather conditions.
After Winter Storm Karim brought heavy snow and winds to Arsal, Action Against Hunger’s emergency response team, together with partners -- the UN’s Refugee Agency, the Municipality of Arsal, the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Union of Relief & Development Agencies -- met to coordinate a response to families impacted by the snowstorm.
To quickly open roads and access to communities, Action Against Hunger’s emergency team worked with local providers to clear the way to more than 40 locations. Additionally, we have distributed more than 10 tons of salt to melt snow and ice and to prevent refugees from becoming isolated again due to the storm.
Weather conditions remain extremely harsh, with temperatures falling as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Icy roads are expected throughout the next week, which could jeopardize residents’ movement and access to essential services.
Lebanon, which hosts the most refugees per capita worldwide, is facing its worst economic and financial crisis in years. Winter is getting harder for vulnerable people, both Syrian and Lebanese, who can barely make ends meet.
Increased costs and decreased vital services are affecting individuals’ ability to pay for fuel. Syrian refugees are now burning plastic, nylon and garbage to keep warm, which can further deteriorate their health conditions. Help is urgently needed to provide emergency kits to the most vulnerable people in Arsal.