The winter storm ‘Zina’ swept across the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, bringing cold winds, heavy rains and snow, affecting hundreds of thousands of refugees living in tents. Schools and roads were closed and even the airport closed down when the winds reached speeds of 90 km per hour.
Heaters and fuel
The past weeks, Dorcas has been implementing winterisation activities. ‘We distribute heaters as well as vouchers for fuel,’ said Country director Joop Teeuwen. ‘The Syrian refugees can exchange the vouchers for fuel in jerry cans, which they can keep. We also distribute coats and blankets. The help is really needed because it is quite cold, especially in the areas where Dorcas works. We distribute to refugees that live in areas at high altitudes (900 meters). At these altitudes, there is snow and the temperatures at night drop below freezing. The storm has brought despair to the refugees. Relief helpers, too, encountered problems such as slippery and snow-blocked roads.’
To avoid overlap, Dorcas coordinates its activities with the UN. They provide lists of people who are most in need of help. Sometimes a family on the list does not need the help urgently. Joop: ‘It’s heart-warming to hear them say that they do not need the help and that we better give the heaters and blankets to the poorest of the poor.’
13 January 2015