Monday 20 May 2019

Girl (8) drowns as storm hits refugees in Lebanon

A Syrian refugee hangs clothes to dry at a flooded refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Photo: Bilal Hussein/AP
A Syrian refugee hangs clothes to dry at a flooded refugee camp in the town of Bar Elias, in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Photo: Bilal Hussein/AP

Je Seung Lee london

An eight-year-old Syrian girl has died in Lebanon after she fell into a swollen river and drowned in the northern town of Minyeh, as refugee camps were battered by extreme winter weather.

Refugees have been struggling with dangerous conditions including flooding and heavy snow since last Sunday when Storm Norma hit, bringing strong winds, rain and colder temperatures across the country.

Nearly 250,000 refugees are estimated to have been affected. Hundreds of camps and settlements from the Akkar plain in northern Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley in the east were damaged. In Akkar, 22 settlements were flooded with 77 tents destroyed, with 211 refugees forced to relocate.

The most severe flooding was in the Bekaa Valley, where aid workers said the water rose to nearly half a metre in many camps and 600 families were forced to evacuate.

The International Rescue Committee which visited the Syrian refugee settlement near the village of Qlayaat in Akkar province compared the site to a swimming pool.

Sewage

Syrian refugee camps and settlements in Lebanon have poor irrigation and drainage systems, making them prone to damage in the case of heavy rainfall. As well as tents and personal belongings, medical supplies and wheelchairs were also washed away, and sewage systems overflowed.

Higher altitude areas have been hit by heavy snowfall. Residents of a refugee settlement in Arsal, a town bordering Syria, battled freezing temperatures as the camp was blanketed with snow.

It is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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