Ten Syrian refugees freeze to death crossing mountains into Lebanon

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The UN Refugee Agency said that it was not receiving the money needed to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon

An internally displaced child stands near tents at a refugee camp in Quneitra, Syria, near the border with Lebanon and Israel on Friday (Reuters)
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Saturday 20 January 2018 11:09 UTC
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Ten Syrians froze to death crossing into Lebanon when an icy storm hit a smuggling route in the mountains near a border post with Syria, the Lebanese army said on Friday. 

The army rescued six others from near the Masnaa border crossing, one of whom later died in hospital. 

"The bodies were taken to the hospitals in the area, and the army continues to search for other displaced people trapped in the snow, to evacuate them and provide medical treatment for them," the army said in a statement. 

The army arrested two Syrians on smuggling charges and is still searching for others lost in the snow, it added.

The identities of the Syrian refugees were not confirmed, but according to some reports, the army found one child among the bodies. 

The UNHCR said in a statement on Friday that the deaths, which included six women, two children and two men, reflected the desperate and volatile situation faced by Syrian refugees "trying to reach safety in Lebanon. 

Syrians wishing to enter Lebanon must prove to Lebanese authorities they have reason to be in Lebanon, such as property ownership, an embassy appointment, or a residency permit.

For many Syrians fleeing war in their country, securing residency or work permits is impossible. Many are in Lebanon illegally and face arrest if discovered.

UNHCR said that it was not receiving the money needed to help Syrian refugees during Lebanon's harsh winter.

Last year it requested $228m but received less than 60 percent of the amount it asked for.

Lebanon took in around 1.5 million Syrian refugees at the height of Syria's conflict, now in its seventh year.

Storms hit much of Lebanon late on Thursday, blanketing the country’s mountainous areas with snow.