Syrian refugees endure more floods from new storm in Lebanon

Lebanon was hit by Storm Norma on January 6, heavily impacting at least 360 informal refugee camps [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon – Syrian refugees in Lebanon are enduring yet another heavy storm, bringing more rains and snowfall to the camps in the country’s eastern and northern regions.

Warnings of the winter storm have pushed refugees in Ghazze, a town in the Bekaa Valley, to take precautions against the floods, days after the country was hit by Storm Norma on January 6.

Lebanon is home to more than one million Syrian refugees, most of whom live in informal settlements made out of tarpaulin tents supported by wooden frames.

They are usually required to pay landowners rent ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the area, even as half of the Syrian refugee community in Lebanon already lives in extreme poverty, earning less than $3 a day, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

During last week’s storm, many have found shelter in incomplete housing units, garages, or evacuated schools as the country does not permit them to upgrade their tents to more permanent structures.

The tent was our castle’

In Ghazze, refugees are housed in at least 1,500 tents divided over several unofficial camps, according to municipality figures published last year. In one camp, dubbed “008” by the UN, at least 36 out of 48 tents were flooded during Storm Norma.

While some families in Ghazze say they have no other option than to withstand the upcoming storm, others have already sought temporary shelter.

Wessal Al Mustafa, a mother of five, said she simply cannot put her children through a storm similar to Norma, which affected more than 11,000 Syrian refugees across the country. “The last storm was so sudden,” Al Mustafa, who fled Raqqa in 2014, told Al Jazeera.

“I barely managed to rush my children out of the tent, let alone grab a few clothing items before we were completely soaked,” the 32-year-old said.

“To us, this tent was our castle.”

source: Al Jazeera

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