- Posted December 22, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Wintry weather 2014
Syria : " The Arab Spring " Turned into a deadly winter
"The refugees are in a difficult situation throughout the year, but during the winter while empire. I appeal : we should come and help us . Above all, we absolutely need the oil so that they can be heated sufficiently . " The P. Elian Nasrallah , Greek Catholic , is the first line : the parish of El Qaa , northeast of Lebanon, is located on the Syrian border. "We are only 35 kilometers from Homs and 22 000 to 25 000 Syrians refugees home. Every month , they are 2000 to attend the clinic , " managed by the parish.
A COLD WAVE SPECIAL
El Qaa was a predominantly Christian village of 4000 souls before the war in Syria. In the first months of the conflict , refugees flocked . "First, we have welcomed into our homes and empty buildings , recalls Fr Elian . Then we began to erect tents in the land around the village. " The situation is far from ideal : refugees are exposed to cold and tents collapse when the snow turns the ground into mud . "And many have not withstood the wind. "
The Middle East saw last week an exceptionally cold spell . Lebanon , a mountainous country , was covered with a large blanket of snow . People and humanitarian organizations have attempted to mobilize to provide mattresses and blankets to refugees, more numerous in the mountainous areas of the country.
Main challenge , provide fuel so that refugees use the only available mode of heating : Oil stoves . "We provide them money for the oil they buy , says Stéphane Lobjois , Emergency Manager at Islamic Relief France . They can then be heated and run the local economy. It also helps to ease tensions with the Lebanese ... "
ONE THIRD OF SYRIAN REFUGEES LIVING ABROAD IN LEBANON
Today, one third of the 2.4 million Syrians refugees abroad lives in Lebanon, a country of only 10,000 km ² and about 4.5 million inhabitants. "The Lebanese cities are saturated with refugees, says Stéphane Lobjois . So there is an influx in easily accessible areas where there is room as the Bekaa (note: near the Syrian border) or Mount Lebanon . " Located in altitude , these two regions are subjected to temperatures often below freezing .
On the other side of the border , fighting continues in the key Qalamoun region, the Lebanese- Syrian border. The assault of the Syrian army in this area hitherto held by the rebellion caused the flight of thousands of people to Lebanon , Damascus and Homs. "The situation is catastrophic , insists P. Ziad Hilal , Director Homs Jesuit Refugee Service . In Homs, we have seen it happen many Christian families in the town of Yabroud ( one of the main cities of Qalamoun ) . Almost all fled here or Damascus . " During the great snow , the roads were cut and supply in the affected areas has been interrupted. The price of a liter of fuel is gone. "Before the war , we pay 7 liter LS recalls Fr Ziad . Today, it costs about 65 pounds ... "
" THE WORST HUMANITARIAN CRISIS "
Monday, December 16 , the UN agencies have launched a record appeal to fund humanitarian aid to Syria. " In March 2012, there was talk of a million victims to assist in Syria , then a few months later, 6.5 million and 9.3 million today ," said Valerie Amos, Assistance Coordinator for the UN humanitarian , claiming $ 6.5 billion for the Syrians in 2014. " This is the worst humanitarian crisis in decades ," added Muhannad Hadi , coordinator of the Emergency World Food Programme aid to Syria.
" People are living in a situation more precarious , worries Stéphane Lobjois . At the beginning of the war, they left with some savings which are now nearly exhausted. Even people who could afford an apartment no longer can . What refugees need most now is simply restore peace in Syria. "