Syrian refugees endure plunging temperatures

Lyse visited a refugee camp in Lebanon

Not a single Syrian refugee child we met in northern Lebanon was dressed for winter. None had warm coats, or mittens. Some didn't even have shoes.

Tiny hands were pink with cold in temperatures near zero. Like children anywhere, their hands still stretched out to greet us when we trudged up a hillside in the Bekaa Valley to reach the snowbound concrete blocks they now call home.

When they weren't laughing, as children do, they were coughing and crying. One little boy in blue pyjamas and sandals gave us a warm smile, through chattering teeth.

It has been the worst of winters for Syrians fleeing the worst of wars. More than 600,000 have already fled into neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

Many are forced to live in tents or makeshift shelters that provide no refuge from the most severe storms in two decades. One aid worker told us people were "swimming in their tents" as snows melted.

Not a day goes by without someone standing up in some capital to express concern about Syria.

One centre we visited in the Bekaa Valley was distributing vouchers for food and fuel provided by the United Nations and some NGOs. But an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid is only about 25% funded.

In crudely-built refugee homes like the ones we saw, they're doing battle with metal roofs that leak, blankets for windows that let the wind and cold in, and children getting sick.

"It's shameful to live like this," cried Najoud, a mother of eight, as she she broke down in tears. "We are also God's creations."

Lyse Doucet Article written by Lyse Doucet Lyse Doucet Chief international correspondent

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • UndergroundTravel books

    BBC Culture goes underground to discuss what Londoners are reading on the go

Programmes

  • Evan Blass (known as evLeaks on Twitter)Click

    One of the world's top technology leakers - Evan Blass - explains how he gathers his secrets

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.