It is currently 3 degrees where I am. That is without the wind chill. (If you do not know what “wind chill” is, consider yourself blessed.) It is literally too cold to be outside for any length of time without danger of frostbite.
And yet, I’m not complaining. Syrian refugees in the Middle East have it much worse. Some three million Syrians are trying to cope with life in Lebanon refugee camps: tents with no heat, no wood to burn, little or no food, all in the midst of cold and snow. They have fled civil war in Syria, which began with the Arab Spring of 2011 and continues with military sieges and rebellion.
Children wearing sandals with no coats run through the makeshift city in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Paul Wood reports:
We found a tent with Mona al-Ali, who had given birth to twins Abbas and Bassima three days earlier. Their five older siblings huddled around a fire, which was not putting out enough heat to warm their tent.
Mona, who is from Homs, told me she prayed to God for things to get better.
“Our situation is very bad,” she said. “There’s no proper heating. I have to keep the kids locked up all day, buried in this tent. We can’t afford many things we need, medicine for example. The children all have the flu.”
On the day we visited the camp in the Bekaa, there was news of a tragedy in southern Lebanon.
A six-year-old Syrian boy died crossing the border. His father carried him through the blizzard.
Lebanon is reluctant to offer a permanent home to refugees because of the political ramifications. NGOs struggle to keep up with the needs of the refugees, who have found temporary residence not only in Lebanon, but Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.