As Temperatures Plummet the Crisis in Syria Becomes Dire

As Temperatures Plummet the Crisis in Syria Becomes Dire

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Gareth Richards

Winter weather has come early to Lebanon this year. Heading into December, several weeks of intermittent heavy rain have replenished many of the subterranean aquifers, also bringing snowfall to the ridges of Mount Lebanon and the Beka’a area.

For many, the seasonal look of the peaks and higher valleys will recall the familiar images of Christmas found on greetings cards and elsewhere. But for the thousands of homeless refugees in Lebanon, this winter is far from cozy as temperatures plummet, even in the coastal areas.

CARE Lebanon’s work with hundreds of vulnerable local and displaced families has helped provide basic improvements to some of the poorest housing imaginable, including the installation of a washbasin for a mother and four children squatting in an abandoned shop with missing windows and doors, or a flush toilet in an unfinished flat without electricity, where an old widow has made a temporary home after fleeing her Syrian town which had been shelled for weeks by heavy artillery.

As the media focus shifts to other crises, aid funding for Lebanon declines. Yet humanitarian agencies like CARE continue to encounter more refugees who need help with the basics necessary to stay alive. Some refugees are forced to move multiple times as they face eviction for rent arrears to landlords charging hundreds of dollars per month for substandard housing. Later this month, in Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, families will be gathering to celebrate the festive season, enjoying plentiful food, and appreciating the comforts of a good home. Those whose holiday time will include church services celebrating the Nativity will perhaps spare a thought for those Syrian refugee families struggling to find shelter from wintry conditions this Christmas.

Written by Gareth Richards, Country Director for CARE International in Lebanon.


CARE supports Syrian refugees there with winterization assistance. Refugees received blankets and floormats and cash to pay for heaters and fuel. © Photo: Harry Chun/CARE