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      In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Are Freezing to Death as Snow Blankets the Region

      In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Are Freezing to Death as Snow Blankets the Region In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Are Freezing to Death as Snow Blankets the Region In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Are Freezing to Death as Snow Blankets the Region
      Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

      Middle East

      In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Are Freezing to Death as Snow Blankets the Region

      By Alice Speri

      The misery of millions of refugees who have fled war-torn Syria to live in tent cities across neighboring countries just got a lot worse, after bad weather paralyzed the region with freezing temperatures, strong winds, and a massive snow storm.

      The storm, which some have labelled as the "worst" to sweep the Middle East in a decade, has already killed three refugees in Lebanon.

      Among the dead is a 10-year-old girl originally from Homs, Syria, but who had fled to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley along with tens of thousands of refugees, according to local activists. A 7-year-old boy and Syrian shepherd also died as they trekked across the dangerous, snow-covered mountains separating Syria from the town of Chebaa in southeast Lebanon.

      A Lebanese Red Cross volunteer carries the body of a Syrian boy, Majed Badawi, 7, who died along with Syrian shepherd, Ammar Kamel, in a snow storm as the pair made the trek through the rugged, snow-covered mountains from Syria. Photo by Ramiz Dallah/AP

      The snow that has blanketed the region has hit refugees the hardest, as most live in tents with no heat. Many of those with electricity have had their power cut off because of the weather. 

      Over the last few days, photos have emerged of shivering refugees in camps covered in feet of snow.

      A Syrian refugee in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Photo by Hani via Flickr

      Hani, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, shared some photos from his camp, and said that people are panicking, even using wood from their makeshift homes to burn for heat. The Bekaa Valley is home to more than 850 informal refugee settlements, set up in vacant lots, abandoned buildings, garages, sheds and on farmland, according to the UN. 

      "People are scared if it keeps snowing because the tents won't hold up against its weight," he said. 

      A Syrian man walks between tents covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley. Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

      A Syrian boy looks out through his tent door covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley. Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

      Despite the frigid conditions, some Syrians also played in the snow at a refugee camp, in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley. Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

      A Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Photo by Oula via Flickr

      A Syrian refugee in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Photo by Hani via Flickr

      In Jordan's Zaatari and and Azraq camps, the UN refugee agency is distributing information on how to safely use heaters and stoves, and has flown in thousands of additional blankets for residents.

      But the situation remains dire for refugees, including for the tens of thousands of those living outside camps. 

      'We don't have any hope to go back': Syrian refugees' lives turn permanent in Zaatari refugee camp. Read more here.

      Photo via Facebook/Norwegian Refugee Council

      In Lebanon, conditions have been especially harsh around the town of Arsal, which has over recent months also seen a spillover of the Syrian conflict from across its shared border. The UN refugee agency said it set up six emergency shelters in the town after many people's makeshift homes were damaged.

      The videos below show refugees attempting to make repairs in the Mousa camp in Arsal.

      Syrian refugee children sit on the ground inside their tent home at a Syrian refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village in the Bekaa valley. Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

      Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi

      Topics: middle east, syria, syrian refugees, lebanon, bekaa valley, arsal, jordan, zaatari, un, unhcr, snow, war & conflict

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