Members of a group of Syrian refugees attempting to cross Lebanon’s snowy mountainous regions were found dead on Friday by the nation’s military.
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Fifteen bodies, including children, have been uncovered so far after members of the Lebanese army stumbled upon the tragic scene following a fierce winter storm. Authorities were notified of an emergency call from a group of refugees near Masnaa.
"The bodies were taken to the hospitals in the area, and the army continues to search for other displaced people trapped in the snow, in order to evacuate them and provide medical treatment for them," a statement from Lebanon authorities said.
Military forces were able to reach the group in time to rescue a few of their members, including a young boy who had strayed from the path. According to local media, the Syrians were traveling on a well-known route, frequented by hundreds of refugees over the years.
"The army saved six other displaced Syrians, one of whom died later in a hospital from frostbite," authorities said.
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A sudden drop in temperatures has stretched across the Bekaa Valley, where over 357,000 Syrian refugees have set up camp, preparing for the extreme winter weather.
"They live in tents that are made out of plastic sheeting, which does little to protect them from the cold and the rain," Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zeina Khodr reported.
Since the Syrian conflict began seven years ago, the Lebanese government has opened its doors to almost 1.5 million registered Syrian refugees. However, the United Nations High Commissioner says funds to support the wave of migrants are dangerously low and refugees will not ready for the extreme temperatures headed their way.