ASIA/LEBANON - Thousands of Syrian refugee children forced to live in temporary camps in the cold

Friday, 4 January 2013

Dalhamieh (Agenzia Fides) - In Dalhamieh, a small village in the Bekaa Valley, about 30 kilometers east of Beirut, the Syrian refugees are scattered in an informal camp where the tents are increasing day by day. Until a few days there were 698 people, among them 86 children under 2 years of age, from Syria with nothing and now find themselves having to cope with the harsh winter temperatures. The curtains are made of cardboard, plastic and stones and are not sufficient for the harsh climate of the area. When it rains the water seeps in, to protect their legs from the mud when they walk the young children put plastic bags on their feet. According to the latest statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the refugees registered or pending registration in Lebanon are over 160 000. However, the actual number is much higher as many for fear prefer not to register. In the Lebanese regions of the North and Bekaa there are about 35 000 Syrian children under 14 living in extreme meteorological conditions. The priority is to keep the young ones warm, safe and healthy. Last week, about 270 refugees were admitted to hospital. There is also the danger of epidemics of hepatitis and cholera. Latrines are flooded and there are no means to maintain proper sanitation. In the small village of Adous there are increasing admissions in hospitals. To limit this emergency, UNICEF, together with other humanitarian organizations are starting a program in Lebanon to distribute to refugees in Akkar, in northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, kits containing supporting materials to face the winter season. They have begun to distribute winter clothes for Syrian children. The target is to reach 30 000, half will be given shoes, socks, trousers, jackets, hats, gloves, while the other half will receive vouchers to buy clothes in neighboring markets. Plastic sheeting, blankets and hygiene kits for the newborn and families will be distributed and also medical supplies and food. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 04/01/2013)