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5 Dead as Harsh Weather Keeps Pounding Syrian Refugees

  • VOA News

A Syrian girl stands on top of her tent to remove the snow from it at a refugee camp in Zahleh, Bekaa Valley, east Lebanon, Jan. 8, 2015.

A Syrian girl stands on top of her tent to remove the snow from it at a refugee camp in Zahleh, Bekaa Valley, east Lebanon, Jan. 8, 2015.

Syrian refugees and internally displaced people endured harsh weather for a third straight day Thursday because of a storm that has brought blizzards, rain and plummeting temperatures to the Middle East.

Tens of thousands of refugees across Lebanon and Jordan have been struggling to keep warm and protect their makeshift shelters.

In eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which has been blanketed with snow, Syrian refugees cleared snow from roofs and tents and huddled around fires.

Western media reported that the storm killed three Syrians in Lebanon and two in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday.

The interim leader of the Western-backed opposition group Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Touma, appealed to the international community to help Syrian refugees and internally displaced people. AP quoted Touma as saying the situation on the ground was "catastrophic" because of low temperatures and a lack of tents in refugee camps.

On Wednesday, Canada announced it would resettle 10,000 more Syrian refugees over the next three years in response to the U.N. refugee agency's appeal to resettle 100,000 Syrians worldwide.

Canada's immigration minister, Chris Alexander, also said 3,000 refugees from Iraq would be granted asylum in Canada.

The United Nations says more of the world's refugees are from Syria than from any other country in the world.

Snow also fell in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and nearby northern Israel. Jerusalem schools were closed, ahead of forecasts calling for snow accumulations of 25 centimeters.

Elsewhere, Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency, after an eight-month-old Palestinian infant in the Tulkarem refugee camp was killed in a heating stove fire.

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