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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But in Lebanon, officials have refused to build permanent structures, leaving Syrian refugees huddled in tents with little protection from the cold.
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.
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.
And with so many cities in Syria destroyed, some say they could never have a home to return to.
Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F
Contact Sheera Frenkel at email@example.com.
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