Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Lebanon face an ongoing struggle to keep warm as the region faces one of the harshest winters in decades.
Patricia Mouamar, World Vision communications officer for Lebanon, says refugees living in makeshift tents of sugar sacks and cardboard have taken to moving to shelters which might have some form of heating such as a stove.
Others have borrowed stoves from Lebanese neighbours, and still others have taken to burning whatever rubbish they can find to generate some heat. One woman Patricia met was burning nylon bags and filling her shelter with smoke. The woman conceded that the practice likely posed a health risk, but she had no choice but to try and keep her children warm.
One local clinic reported that it was treating about five to six children a day with pneumonia, and fevers with extremely high temperatures.
Recently, World Vision distributed more than 1,000 stoves to unregistered refugees living in West and Central Bekaa — one of the coldest regions in Lebanon. Distributions were delayed a week due to snow-blocked roads.
Families also received coupons to purchase diesel fuel to power the stoves. The stoves can be used for heating and cooking. A mother of two said the stove came at just the right time for her family. Reflecting on her situation she added: “I wish the whiteness of the snow around us erases all the violence we have gone through.”
Karim Bayoud, World Vision’s refugee response manager, says World Vision decided to focus on unregistered refugees for the stove distributions because they are among the most vulnerable and cannot access formal assistance.