The Washington Post reports: The United Nations said Wednesday that it is “extremely concerned” for Syria’s refugees as snow and freezing temperatures descended on the region.
Syria and the countries that border it have been bracing for what is expected to be the worst winter storm in years. Snow hit some areas of Lebanon, Turkey and northern Syria overnight Tuesday as sharp winds and cold, heavy rains battered others, causing misery for hundreds of thousands in camps and shanties.
In Lebanon, despite the wintry conditions, the flow of Syrians fleeing the war is unrelenting. Local officials in the border town of Arsal, where some of the heaviest snow fell overnight, on Wednesday reported the arrival of 200 men, women and children who had risked the treacherous journey across the mountains on foot. Many were from the town of Yabroud in the Qalamoun region, where a Syrian army offensive is underway.
Aid agencies, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Lebanese army rushed to distribute kits containing plastic sheeting and blankets to the newcomers, but poorly funded humanitarian groups are struggling to meet the overwhelming needs. Authorities remain reluctant to establish permanent refugee camps in Lebanon and have opened only one official, 100-tent “transit camp.” [Continue reading…]