Syrian Refugees Brace For Winter Storm

As the Middle East prepares for one of its worst storms in years, millions of Syrian refugees are left out in the cold.

1. More than 2.3 million Syrians have fled into neighboring countries since fighting began in March 2011. Another 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria.

REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

2. The storm currently hitting the region is expected to see snowfall from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan — all areas in which Syrian refugees often live in makeshift structures and tents.

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters

3. Several Syrian families will often share the same home. “If someone has a heater they will have other families come in. We have to share to survive,” said Reza Husseini, a father of three in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters

4. More than half of registered Syrian refugees are children. Last year, Syrian refugees said that children, especially newborns, were suffering serious health risks from the cold.

6. UN officials at Zaatari said they were rushing to bring in semi-permanent structures and to build irrigation canals to stop the massive flooding that happened in 2012.

Family tents enroute to @ZaatariCamp These will be the homes for Syrian refugees for the foreseeable future

— Aoife_McDonnell (@Aoife McDonnell)

7. But in Lebanon, officials have refused to build permanent structures, leaving Syrian refugees huddled in tents with little protection from the cold.

A photo of Syrian refugees tents in Ersal #Lebanon this morning. There are cold children inside.. #AlexaStorm

— SaraAssaf (@Sara Assaf)

8. Housing structures would “suggest a permanent situation for the refugees,” according to Makram Maleeb, a Lebanese official who manages the Syrian refugee crisis at the Ministry for Social Affairs.

Terrible conditions for #Syria refugees as #Alexa storm hits #Lebanon. Pic of Syrian refugee camp in #Arsal.

— RobertMardini (@Robert Mardini)

9. Humanitarian aid groups say that part of the problem is that no one knows how long the war in Syria will last, and funds are already running low.

A photo my friend in Turkey just sent me of a #Syria|n refugee camp. Keep them in your thoughts.

— Racanarchy (@Racan)

10. And with so many cities in Syria destroyed, some say they could never have a home to return to.

Surreal #photo!! Destruction, starvation and cold in one place #Homs few minutes ago #Syria

— RamiAlLolah (@Rami)

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Sheera Frenkel is a Middle East correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
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