Lebanon's winter storm freezes refugees in flooded camps

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Strong winds and waves lash the Mediterranean Sea coastline, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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A Syrian refugee shovels mud in front of a makeshift shelter follwoing rain storms in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on January 8, 2019. (AFP)
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Syrian refugee men discuss the situation as they stand in a flooded tent in Jib Jinnin, in the Bekaa Valley close to the Syrian border on January 7, 2019, as the region is endures storms and heavy rains. (AFP)
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Motorists drive on a flooded street in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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People cross a mud-flooded street in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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Men push a scooter that broke down on a flooded street in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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Strong waves hit the Mediterranean Sea coastline during a storm, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Lebanon's winter storm freezes refugees in flooded camps

  • "There is almost half a metre of water on the ground and in the tents.." a refugee said
  • Families were moving around in search of dryness and warmth

BEIRUT: Storms in Lebanon have flooded Syrian refugee camps, ruining tents, mattresses and food and compounding the misery of people enduring powerful winter winds and biting cold.
More than a million Syrians fled to neighbouring Lebanon since war broke out at home in 2011, and UN agencies say most live of them live in poverty.
"There is almost half a metre of water on the ground and in the tents ... the war in Syria forced us into this situation," said Hussein Zeidan who came to Lebanon from Homs in Syria in 2011.
He lives in a makeshift camp near a river in north Lebanon's Akkar region. He and some of its other residents said the storm had left them and their children with no clothes, furniture or food.
Families were moving around in search of dryness and warmth.
"Water flooded us in the camp: me and my children. Our situation is bad ... God bless our neighbours, they welcomed us in yesterday night. Today, water flooded them so we came here, as you can see, to this half-built house with no windows or doors," Ghazwan Zeidan, who has three children, said in Akkar.
The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that the storm had completely flooded or collapsed 15 informal settlements out of at least 66 that were "heavily impacted".
In the Bekaa valley in east Lebanon, the cold temperatures have also brought snow.
Abu Shahid, who fled Hasaka in Syria three years ago with his family, stood in flooded water in an informal camp in Bar Elias village. He described how his tent had completely submerged, damaging all his family's belongings.
"The only solution is to leave our things and move, run away with our lives ... Water is everywhere, where do we go?," he said. The previous night, he and his wife and two children had slept in a neighbour's tent that was less damaged by the floods.
For 19-year-old Hamed Haj Abu and his relatives, the night was cold and wet.
"We did not sleep all night. Some were sleeping for an hour, others were waking up. Water was coming on us, in the tent, from everywhere," he said in Bar Elias.
"My brother and his family first came to us, they are living nearby. We all did not sleep, we left the tent all together, we can't sit, look, water is flooding, we can't sleep on water."


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.