Storm Norma piles down on thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon
A wave of snow and heavy rainfall has hit parts of Lebanon, destroying refugee camps and sparking people to speak out on social media.
Storm Norma, which started on Saturday and is expected to continue until late on Wednesday according to forecasters, hit Lebanon with heavy rains, snowfall and freezing temperatures, leaving at least 66 camps heavily impacted by the flooding.
Some of the worst affected areas were the refugee camps in Arsal, a mountainous area in North Lebanon, leaving many in need of emergency assistance.
Hundreds of refugee camps and settlements in the area from the Akkar Plain to Bekaa Valley have been devastated by the storm.
Social media users shared images from the refugee camps, highlighting the dire conditions and raising awareness on the situation.
According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the Lebanese Red Cross has rescued more than 500 people from Akkar’s Semmaqieh refugee settlement after their tents filled with flood water.
In Lebanon, more than 951,000 Syrians are registered as refugees with the UN, though the government estimates the real number to be much higher.
Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees which fled from war in Syria since 2011, and have since lived in makeshift tents and settlements. The Lebanese do not allow Syrian refugees to build concrete houses, as they are not allowed to reside permanently in the country.
Reports from Associated Press state that several bulldozers in the village of Dahr el-Baydar were working on opening the highway that links Beirut with the Syrian capital Damascus after it was covered with about a meter of snow.
Many have used this as an opportunity to remind people of the suffering faced by refugees in the region.