Fifteen Syrian refugees found frozen to death near Lebanon border

The Lebanese Civil Defence

Fifteen Syrian refugees, including children, were found frozen to death while trying to cross the Lebanese border due to a snowstorm in the region, according to sources in the Lebanese Civil Defence.

Thirteen bodies were found last Friday and two more were discovered on Saturday after the area was hit by a fierce snowstorm.

According to the sources, three children were among the victims, who lost their lives as they attempted to cross into Lebanon from neighbouring war-torn Syria.

The bodies were discovered on a people-smuggling route in the early hours of Friday after a snowstorm hit the Masnaa area, where Lebanon’s largest official border crossing with Syria is located.

Three more refugees were rescued by Lebanese civil defence teams, the sources told Al Jazeera.

According to the sources: “The bodies were taken to the hospitals in the area, and the army continues to search for other displaced people trapped in the snow, in order to evacuate them and provide medical treatment for them.”

Local reports say the group had been abandoned by smugglers.

Two smugglers have reportedly been arrested.

The group were taking the same route hundreds of thousands of Syrians have taken since 2011 in trying to flee the conflict at home.

Several parts of Lebanon, including the Beqaa Valley, which is home to thousands of Syrian refugees have been hit recently with extremely cold weather and heavy snowfall.

The winter storms made the lives of the more than 357,000 Syrian refugees living in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley, some 37 miles north of Masnaa, even more difficult.

Last month, the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon had fallen to about 998,000 from a previous 1.5 million.

 

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