Heavy torrents and below-zero temperatures continue to threaten lives in refugee camps across Syria and Lebanon, Qatar is sending in aid to ease people’s suffering.
Qatar Charity sent an urgent relief convoy to refugee camps in Arsal along the Syria-Lebanon border in the hope of easing the suffering of thousands of Syrians.
This comes as a response to the harsh snowstorms that have swept across parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey making the already precarious circumstances of thousands of Syrian refugees even harder.
QC sent a convoy of 10 trucks to deliver its first batch of aid in an effort to assist those in urgent need. Food baskets, clothes, fuel for heating, and other basic supplies are amongst the items being delivered.
Arsal, a small town in Lebanon, is home to one of the largest refugee concentrations in the country. For over 50,000 Syrians who live there, winter has consistently proven to be a matter of life or death.
Heavy rainfall and low temperatures have severely impacted thousands for nearly a decade and many struggle to stay warm in the freezing cold. A lack of adequate access to fuel, coupled with crowded living environments further aggravates the situation.
In the past, many have died from the harsh temperatures and those who do withstand it are left with lasting health conditions.
“The situation is very, very difficult,” said social activist Baseem Atrash, speaking from the town of Arsal. “They [Syrian refugees] are burning anything to keep their heaters on, from plastic to old clothes,” he added.
Last month, a Syrian mother and her three children died from inhaling toxic fumes in their sleep. They were burning coal to heat their room.
The increase in the cost of wood due to the economic crisis in Lebanon is also adding to the problem. Right now, the cost of a ton of wood is almost five times the minimum wage in Lebanon, selling for 3 million Lebanese Liras ($120).
The aid group CARE International said that temperatures are still expected to drop, putting millions of lives at risk.
Local and international NGOs have been warning about the devastating impact winter will have on the border camps, and have since launched campaigns to help the camp’s families and residents. One such NGO is Molham Team, a Syrian-student-lead charity which has become one of the biggest organisations to work inside Syria, they launched their Give Warmth 15 campaign to assist those affected by the snowstorms in camps in northwestern Syria.
The UNHCR and UNICEF have also raised millions for donations throughout the course of the conflict, especially during winter. Every year, UNICEF distributes warm clothing kits for children, including winter jackets, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves.
Qatar has also contributed to the efforts with its projects through QC, including the Syria: Endless Winter campaign, in 2015.
This recent aid falls under the ‘Arsal Relief’ initiative, ‘Warmth and Peace’, in which QC aims to distribute its convoy to six camps.
Each year, international and local campaigns are launched to meet the most urgent demands for those living in refugee and IDP camps, attempting to ensure better living conditions, but a sustainable long-term solution has yet to be found.