Abou Faour Voices Concern over Conditions of Syrian Refugees during Winter

Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour expressed fear on Wednesday over the “disastrous” conditions of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon amid the winter storm hitting the country.

“We are incapable, the ministry is working through international associations to aid the refugees,” Abou Faour said in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper.

He pointed out that the reasons behind the state's paralysis is due to the “absence of any unified political decision to establish formal camps for the refugees.”

Abou Faour warned that the “frosting will take the lives of people and the state can do nothing about it.”

“All we can do is lessen the catastrophe and not confront it,” the caretaker Minister added.

He said that the ministry kicked off a campaign in coordination with NGOs to provide the refugees with cloths, winter supplies and heaters,” Abou Faour said.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR spokeswomen Lisa Abou Khaled said there were concerns for thousands of people living in more than 200 informal camps in central and north Lebanon.

"We are worried, because it is really cold in the Bekaa region, and we're extremely worried about the refugees living in makeshift shelters, because many are really substandard," she said.

Despite the conditions, refugees were continuing to arrive, including a group of 10 families fleeing the Syrian town of Yabrud in the Qalamoun region north of Damascus.

More than 835,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, although the real number is thought to total more than one million.

Thousands live in makeshift camps, in shelters made of little more than plastic sheeting nailed to wooden frames.

Others are living in unfinished buildings with only slightly more protection from the elements in cities including Beirut.

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