Syrian refugees found dead in bitter cold in Lebanon

Two women and two children discovered by search teams

A rescue mission was launched to find the missing refugees who were later found dead. Reuters.
A rescue mission was launched to find the missing refugees who were later found dead. Reuters.

Four Syrian refugees died in bitterly cold weather in Lebanon’s Baalbek-Hermel governorate, the mayor Bachir Khodr said.

The bodies of two women and two children were found in the village of Aainata, about 100 kilometres from Beirut, after they were reported missing.

Civil defence teams, Lebanese Army units and internal security forces launched a search and rescue mission.

“They died due to the bitter cold,” Mr Khodr said.

An investigation will be launched to establish whether they were victims of human trafficking.

Syrian refugees are among the most vulnerable groups in Lebanon and are often victims of discrimination and xenophobia.

In November 2020, Syrian refugees in the northern town of Bcharre were attacked and evicted by local residents after a Lebanese man was reportedly shot and killed by a Syrian citizen. Their tents were burnt down to prevent them from returning.

Lebanon’s economic crisis takes a heavy toll on the refugee community, forcing many to live in dire conditions.

A UN report on March 23 said the proportion of Syrian refugees living in extreme poverty in Lebanon was 89 per cent in 2020, up from 55 per cent the previous year.

By the end of 2020, at least 49 per cent of Syrian refugees were classed as “food insecure” and 21 per cent had no source of income and were left to weather the economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic without help.

The UN high commissioner for refugees said Lebanon was the country with the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.

In 2020, there were an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Updated: April 1, 2021 01:28 PM

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