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London, 16 January 2019 – Emergency relief and recovery organisation Medair is delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian refugee families whose shelters have been damaged or destroyed during winter storm Norma.

UNHCR estimates that some 70,000 people in 850 informal settlements across Lebanon are at risk from flooding, heavy snow, or extreme cold due to winter storm Norma. The Bekaa Valley region, where Medair currently works, home to more than 340,000 Syrian refugees, is one of the two areas most affected by winter storm Norma.

Medair emergency response teams are assessing the affected informal settlements in North, Central, and West Bekaa Valley. Medair has so far assessed 132 sites and found that 66 of these sites need assistance. Medair found around 300 households in need of shelter kits, and more than 50 households in need of permanent or temporary relocation. Those needing permanent relocation live in areas that flood many times each year.

Medair has distributed around 300 shelter kits so far, and continues to assess how best to prepare and repair damaged informal settlements to help mitigate the risk of future flooding. The shelter kits contain wood, plastic sheeting, concrete blocks, and a tent construction toolkit.

“The current crisis triggered by the winter storm is an indicator of how vulnerable communities in the Bekaa Valley are to flooding and other emergencies. I am glad that our teams were able to work with these communities to assess their needs under these difficult circumstances,” says Steffen Horstmeier, Country Director for Medair in Lebanon. “Medair will continue to respond with the communities to all these emergencies and do its best to strengthen their resilience over time.”

Efforts to pump water out of Bekaa Valley informal settlements have been ongoing since 7 January, however efforts were hampered due to water continuing to flow into the settlements. This created access challenges for humanitarian organisations seeking to provide assistance to affected families. Many Syrian refugees living in flooded settlements have left their shelters temporally, seeking safety with friends or relatives, or seeking shelter inside schools or municipal buildings. Most of them are returning today and tomorrow due to the weakening of the storm.

Medair has worked in Lebanon since 2012, providing shelter and safe water assistance to Syrian refugees living in the Bekaa Valley. Medair provides health support to Syrian and vulnerable Lebanese families, and oversees the location mapping of informal settlements across Lebanon to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Medair’s work in Lebanon is supported by the European Union’s Madad Fund, Global Affairs Canada, the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund, Swiss Solidarity, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For Media Enquiries

In UK office: Atim Henshaw, Communications and Marketing Manager (English), +44 208 772 0100

In Amman, Jordan: Lucy Bamforth, Middle East Regional Communications Manager (English, French), +962 7 9954 5525 | +961 81 313 440

At Global Support Office in Switzerland: Paola Barioli, Press and Media Officer (Italian, French, English),  +41 78 775 46 45

For more information about Medair’s Lebanon programme, please click here.

Twitter: @MedairUK.

Facebook:  @MedairUK.

Medair is an international humanitarian organisation that provides emergency relief and recovery aid to communities made vulnerable by natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises.