“It was freezing last week,” says 45-year-old Hanaa as she sits in a public school that serves as refugee shelter in the northern Akkar region of Lebanon.
The shelter has been Hanaa’s home since she and her family fled the Syrian conflict four years ago. Living conditions are not easy and were worsened when temperatures dropped below zero as a turbulent winter storm struck the Middle East in early January. Five Syrian refugees in Lebanon died in the storm from exposure and illness.
Hanaa was grateful for a package of winter items that Anera distributed in Berkayel as part of its emergency response during the harsh winter. The packet included much-needed blankets, quilts and rechargeable lanterns.
These items are life-saving. They will definitely save my two-day-old nephew from freezing to death inside these cold, damp walls.
“These items are life-saving,” Hanaa says. “They will definitely save my two-day-old nephew from freezing to death inside these cold, damp walls.” She says the rechargeable lanterns will also provide steady light for her children to do their homework and stay in school.
Winter Distribution Reaches 1,000 Syrian Refguee Families
Winter storms that brought freezing temperatures, heavy winds, snow and rain have added to the hardship for refugees living in camps and makeshift shelters. More than 300,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Akkar and are considered among the most impoverished. “And recently the region’s residents stopped receiving any support and aid,” explains Anera’s in-kind medical aid program manager, Dima Zayat. “We took advantage of a sunny day to make the distribution, which will hopefully ease their suffering and help people not to get sick, especially since this region is expecting another major storm.”
In two days, Anera was able to distribute 800 blankets, 1,900 quilts and 950 rechargeable lamps to 1,000 refugee families from all over northern Lebanon. The distribution was made possible by individual donations to Anera and quilts from Lutheran World Relief.
“The distribution is running smoothly,” says Mohammad Ahmad Abdul Majd, head of the Akkar office of the relief aid organization Dar Al Fatwa, Anera’s partner for its winterization program. “We use barcodes and a database from UNHCR to reach people via SMS to make sure all families in need will receive the appropriate items.”
Anera and its partners are continuing to expand efforts to help refugees during the harsh weather. Mohammad adds, “We want to make sure every Syrian refugee is getting a little bit warmer this winter.”