Qab Elias, Lebanon – Syrian refugees living in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley have been struggling amid a harsh winter, with heavy snowfall frequently collapsing their fragile tents.
Four years after the beginning of Syria’s war, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has surpassed one million. Most are jobless and homeless, and hold little hope of returning anytime soon to their war-ravaged homeland. A large number of children are not in school.
Their settlements have been hastily set up in vacant lots, abandoned buildings, garages and farm sheds. In the town of Qab Elias in eastern Lebanon, refugees say they are freezing to death in their tents. Dozens of malnourished children frolic in the snow, wearing light clothes and plastic slippers atop the icy ground.
Refugees say the aid they are receiving is not enough. Mohammad al-Rasheed, a spokesperson for the Qab Elias settlement, said World Vision has provided some clothes and cold-weather gear. But as the war drags on, international funds aimed at helping Syrian refugees have significantly dwindled.
The harsh winter weather of the Lebanese mountains has compounded the misery for these refugees, who now view their lives as a game of survival.