Worst Middle East storm in decades threatens Syrian refugees

The worst winter storm in decades has swept through the Middle East, bringing floods, high winds and heavy snowfall threatening the lives of vulnerable Syrian refugees and host communities, World Vision said today. 

The organisation’s Middle East Regional Director, Australian Conny Lenneberg, said millions of Syrian refugees living in tents and unfinished construction sites will be severely affected by the storm and sub-zero temperatures.

“The storm is just devastating and below freezing weather is life-threatening for refugees living in makeshift shelters,” Ms Lenneberg said. “Young children are particularly vulnerable to the severe weather conditions and are at high risk of contracting respiratory problems and pneumonia.”

“The regional response is already facing funding shortfalls and now the harsh realities of winter are yet another setback to our already stretched relief efforts,” Ms Lenneberg said.

Across the region, World Vision has provided food vouchers and support to refugees living in tented settlements and unfinished buildings to help them prepare for harsh winter conditions. However, as the crisis approaches its fifth year, funding for such initiatives is increasingly scarce and unpredictable.

World Vision Lebanon’s Christine Latif said that the relief organisation is working with UNICEF to provide support for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities across the country.

“World Vision has provided assistance to more than 1.2 million people in Lebanon since the Syria response began and continues to work hard to provide blankets, vouchers for warm clothes, flood mitigation and heating for tents,” Dr Latif said.

The support of the international community is needed to help refugees face the tough winter ahead. Immediate funding from the international community is critical to relief organisations providing lifesaving assistance.

To donate to World Vision Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal call 13 32 40 or visit www.worldvision.com.au/syria

 

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For interviews with staff please contact Gabrielle Brophy on 0407 575 112 or gabrielle.brophy@worldvision.com.au

 

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