Norma, one of the heaviest storms to hit Lebanon in years, has caused havoc in the country. The storm started on January 6th and continued on for two more days. The worst hit have been Syrian refugees living in informal tented settlements (ITSs) in the Bekaa Valley and in Mount Lebanon. According to the UNHCR, 66 ITS’s have been impacted, with around 15 of those completely flooded or collapsed. 300 people have had to be relocated. The Inter-Agency Coordination in Lebanon estimated that 50,000 people living in 850 ITSs were at risk of flooding, extreme winds and heavy snow. The impacts of the storm are certain to continue posing risks to all these people in the coming weeks.
The response to this humanitarian emergency has come from local communities, municipalities and NGOs. Amel Association International in particular has provided crucial assistance to relocate people in the Kamed el Loz area, through the Mobile Educational Unit, commonly referred to as ‘Amel’s Bus’, which typically makes daily rounds of the ITSs in the area to offer non-formal education and assistance to children living there. The bus, which is now acting as a rescue and relief unit, has proved to be a life-saver to several families in the area who have now completely lost the little they already had. Amel’s team have also been providing meals and temporary shelter to those affected.
Other NGOs have been distributing core relief items (like new mattresses, blankets and rubber boots), as well as emergency plastic sheeting and sealing off kits to re-build tents and contain water.