CAIRO (dpa) – A winter storm battering the eastern Mediterranean has brought misery to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians, but a group that tallies deaths in the country’s conflict said on Thursday the weather had also brought about a rare respite from fighting.
With rain, snow and high winds assailing the war-torn country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that, for the first time in three years, it had documented no direct deaths from fighting or bombardment the previous day.
The storm has caused its own victims, however, with four Syrians dying in neighbouring Lebanon and two inside northern Syria as a result of weather conditions, the Britain-based group said.
The Syrian opposition’s government in exile declared the entire country a “disaster zone” and appealed for international aid. Its premier, Ahmed Tomeh, put the death toll due to the harsh weather at ten.
A Beirut-based spokesman for the UN refugee agency said they were concerned about another night of freezing temperatures.
There were up to 50 centimetres of snow in parts of the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon, where Syrian refugees are living in “rough” conditions in some 800 informal settlements, Ron Redmond of the UNHCR said.
Local municipalities were distributing winter aid that UNHCR had put in position ahead of the storm, Redmond said, and three had asked for additional supplies.
In the mountain town of Arsal near the Syrian border, refugees were moving to a collective shelter and a local NGO was distributing 10,000 hot meals daily, he said.