The first snow is falling on Lebanon's Bekaa valley, where thousands of Syrian refugees brace themselves for another harsh winter away from home. Mana Rabiee reports.
They found refuge from war at this outpost of northern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, only to face another kind of hardship. It's the first big snow of the winter, with temperatures plummeting. And thousands of Syrian refugees, some have been here for two years make do with what little they have at this tented settlement .... trying hard just to stay warm. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REFUGEE, ABU HAMADA, SAYING: "We were preparing but we didn't expect to be spending this much money on fuel or wood. Before the girls and their children came, we would put the heater on for 3 or 4 hours a day, but now it has to be on all day. They are young children, if one of them gets sick, it would cost us two tanks of fuel." As Syria's unrest turned into a protracted civil war, many Syrian families in Lebanon moved from the cities to settlements like this. They've become totally reliant on humanitarian agencies, say this U.N. aid worker. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE, MAEVE MURPHY, SAYING: "All of their savings have been depleted, many have moved into the settlements because they are cheaper than living in flats or apartments in town. They are not used to these conditions. It is practically impossible to find a job." Still, even this, is better, far better, than what could await them in Syria, where about a quarter of a MILLION people have perished in the fighting. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REFUGEE, NAWAL, SAYING: "What's important for me is to keep my children away from death. We can handle the cold, it's easier than death, barrel bombs and shelling." The United Nations estimates some 200,000 Syrian families are especially at risk in the weeks ahead... as they BRACE themselves for another harsh winter away from home.