Storm flooding brings misery to Syrian refugees in Lebanon
One dead and more than 11,000 affected by days of heavy rain and high winds from Storm Norma, with hundreds of refugees forced to abandon their homes.
“People are sick. Everywhere there is water. We cannot sleep at night. It has been three days like this. All night we sit and watch the kids and we cannot do anything for them. Their situation is very bad,” 34-year-old mother Juriya explained.
“People are sick. Everywhere there is water. We cannot sleep at night.”
Several days of high winds and heavy rain brought by Storm Norma have led to flooding in towns and villages across Lebanon, which is host to nearly 950,000 Syrian refugees. More than 360 sites hosting 11,300 refugees have been affected, with a number of settlements including in Dalhamiya where Juriya lives becoming completely flooded, forcing hundreds of Syrians from their homes.
At least 600 Syrian refugees in the Bekaa had to relocate because of heavy floods or damage to their shelters. Tragically, the body of a young Syrian girl who drowned after falling into a flooded stream in the north of the country was recovered on Wednesday, after she was reported missing the previous day.
The intensity of the storm and the makeshift nature of refugee settlements in Lebanon – which are not capable of sustaining extreme weather conditions for long – meant that many refugees were still hit hard, triggering UNHCR’s pre-positioned emergency capacity.
“There is no doubt that the situation is very difficult,” said UNHCR External Relations Associate Hiba Fares. “We’ve been going around checking on families and trying to help as much as we can.”
“We’ve been going around checking on families and trying to help as much as we can.”
“Some people had their tents torn or broken. Other people had their tents flooded. So we are also trying to provide alternative shelters with the help of our partners for families whose tents have been destroyed,” she added.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.