In the last few days Storm Norma has hit Lebanon with heavy rains, snowfall and freezing temperatures, leaving an estimated 70,000 refugees in need of emergency assistance.
Lebanon hosts over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, many of whom live in informal settlements with little to no infrastructure, as official refugee camps are not permitted. This makes these kinds of crises difficult to address, and UNHCR’s Interagency Coordination group report that 361 informal settlements and 11,301 refugees have been impacted by the storm so far. Unfortunately, the body of an 8 year old girl reported missing on Wednesday 10th January was recovered the day after. She had drowned after slipping into a rainwater channel.
For over four years, Children on the Edge have been supporting a small Lebanese organisation called Triumphant Mercy, to provide education for 500 Syrian refugee children, living in informal settlements the Bekaa Valley. They are also instrumental in providing additional support, care and supplies for the children and families living in these camps.
When the areas they work in were hit by the storms this week, this dedicated local group responded immediately, and Children on the Edge are urgently appealing for donations to assist them in rebuilding shelters.
Project leader Nuna Matar says, "All the refugees who are living under tents, or who are living in unfinished buildings were really severely hit by this storm...some of the tents are like shacks, so the winter snow is heavy on the roof, and some of them had their roofs collapse on them, so they had to find refuge in neighbouring tents and they had to rebuild, again”.
Many families have had mattresses, bedding, clothing and food destroyed and some tents are completely underwater. Children on the Edge are currently raising funds to pay for wood and plastic to help with rebuilding.
Nuna and her team are visiting the camps to provide help, but they struggle to get across the mountains from Beirut because of the heavy snow. Another storm is expected next week and they urgently need support to help affected families. 315 sites in the Bekaa area alone are at risk of further flooding and/or the accumulation of snow.
Nuna says, “There’s just not enough food, clothing, and shelter. Getting donor support for Lebanon has been challenging because the Syrian refugee crisis has fallen off the front page.”
You can support the appeal by visiting http://bit.ly/lebanonstorm