UNICEF ramps up aid to children as winter storm hits Lebanon
Beirut, 12 December 2013 – UNICEF ramps up aid to children as the first winter storm hits Lebanon. Over 110,000 of refugee children and their families face extreme weather conditions as increasingly dire conditions are reported at informal tented settlements and collective shelters. Families are running out of fuel to keep children warm and ramshackle tents are buckling under the weight of the falling snow.
“UNICEF is working with partners to protect as many vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee families as we can,” said Ms. Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF’s Representative in Lebanon. “This storm is the beginning of a challenging winter ahead, especially for those living in inadequate shelters and exposed to cold and wet conditions.”
The exposure to cold conditions puts more strain on the health of children who are already struggling to survive and stay healthy and are now exposed to acute respiratory infections, a real threat to their survival.
Months before the announcement of the storm ‘Alexa’, UNICEF and partners have been working to pre-position essential supplies and winter kits closer to where they would be needed. Over the past weekend alone, 5000 kits containing warm clothes for children were delivered to hard-to-reach areas like Aarsal in eastern Lebanon.
This brings the number of winter kits being distributed right now to a total of 74,603. Over the coming month more than 153,000 children will recieve winter clothing.
UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry of Public Health with essential medical supplies for the treatment of respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. These supplies cover the needs of 10,000 refugees in the most vulnerable locations.
UNICEF staff and partners have been reporting on the increasing concern of parents in informal tented settlements and collective shelters in the worst affected areas in Bekaa. With temperatures dropping below zero degrees, mothers have been pleading for their children to be protected from the cold until the worst of the storm passes.
While the Alexa storm brought this winter’s first snow fall, it a stark reminder that conditions will remain difficult for the months to come.
UNICEF is also providing over 350 schools across the coldest parts of Lebanon with fuel to heat classrooms during the cold winter months, bringing the number of children reached with UINCEF’s winterization activities to 241,750 across Lebanon.