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Floods Sweep Syrian Refugee Encampments in Lebanon’s Arsal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A young Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Hassan Abdallah/REUTERS

Beirut- Heavy showers that hit Lebanon on Thursday have increased the sufferings of Syrian refugees living in sporadic tents. Rain along with dropping temperatures hit Lebanon amid a complete absence of the role of the Lebanese state and a declining role of humanitarian organizations in helping the displaced, Syrian activists living in Arsal’s encampments said.

The storm uprooted dozens of tents, which were transformed into water and mud ponds driven by the flood.

Refugees living in the northeastern border town of Arsal said they were sad because humanitarian organizations were not making any efforts to help them and their children.

The refugees were also surprised to be exempted from gasoline, which is usually offered in winters by UNHCR in Lebanon.

“The situation is extremely difficult because the rain swept across our tents and the wind ripped most of them,” Syrian activist in Asral Thaer al-Qalamouni told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Al-Qalamouni said that organizations operating in the area “were not interested anymore to ease the woes of Syrian refugees. Even the UNHCR has exempted several families from winter gasoline aids, which are usually offered by the organization every winter. We still ignore the reasons behind the decision.”

However, UNHCR Lebanon team member, Lisa Abu Khaled told Asharq Al-Awsat that reports about a shortage in the organization’s performance were not correct.

“Our organization has the biggest program to help refugees. Every winter, we offer food and medical aid to 900, 000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, particularly in mountainous areas such as Arsal,” she said, adding that gasoline rations were being distributed.

Hussein Hamdan, Relief Coordinator of the Qatar Red Crescent Society’s (QRCS) mission in Lebanon told Asharq Al-Awsat that the suffering of Syrian refugees did not begin with last Wednesday’s storm but it had started a month ago during the first storm that hit Lebanon, and left more than 165 tents damaged.

He said the QRCS has already provided the refugees with new tents, adding that a few days ago, the group completed a project to cover the ceilings of 1182 zinc-made rooms.

Al-Qalamouni called on the UNHCR to visit the Arsal encampments and to look at the conditions of Syrian refugees.

“We live in very hard conditions in winter. Only those who have endured a winter in the camp would know what it means,” he said.