BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Syrian refugees in Lebanon say relief agencies must provide aid that helps protect them against colder weather that is moving in.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of nine children as a result of the cold, including four newborns in the Jarablus refugee camp in Minbij and three in Homs. The group said it had numerous reports from Allepo but had yet to verify them.
Ahmad al-Zuhouri, a refugee from Qara in Syria's Qalamoun region, said the United Nations refugee organization and other relief agencies should provide refugees with better shelter, especially since the weather is becoming colder and stormier, the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star reported Friday.
"All they [the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees] managed to do so far is provide food assistance and some blankets, mattresses and some tents, which do not protect us from the cold winter weather and strong winds," Zuhouri said.
Mohammad Rumman, a father of seven living in Akkar, said residents in neighboring villages helped his family survive.
"We thank them for they have helped us at night by taking us into their homes," Rumman said.
The U.N. refugee agency's operation to help refugees face the colder weather began Thursday, the Daily Star said. Aided by military personnel, the relief agency stepped up distribution of emergency shelter kits that included plastic sheets, timber and tools to thousands of refugees living in tents in the Bekaa Valley, the region most affected by a recent harsh storm.
In a statement, UNICEF expressed concern for children living in makeshift housing, saying exposure to the cold presented "a real threat to their survival."
UNICEF said it has delivered 5,000 kits containing warm clothing for children in Arsal, raising the number of winter kits distributed to 74,603.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the international community failed to meet the overwhelming needs of Syrian refugees in his country, following a meeting with Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.
"Lebanon has never hesitated to carry out its humanitarian duties toward the Syrian refugees but [Lebanon] is disappointed with the international community for neglecting humanitarian considerations," Mikati said.
Amos said the meeting focused on the effects the Syrian civil war was having on Lebanon, specifically how the influx of Syrian refugees was straining Lebanon's economy, particularly in health and education. She said the United Nations and its partners were working to support refugees, host communities and the government.