PORTLAND, Ore. (Jan. 10, 2019) – A powerful winter storm of heavy rain and snow has damaged homes and displaced Syrian war refugees living in Lebanon’s informal settlements.

In response to the extreme-weather conditions, Medical Teams International has mobilized its network of refugee health volunteers to monitor the well-being of the refugee population, many of whom have been forced from their makeshift homes by rising flood waters and wind damage.

Thousands of refugees have been moved to temporary shelters coordinated by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. The team is visiting schools and other relief centers to monitor elderly patients, pregnant women and others who may need special or ongoing care during the storm. The refugee health volunteers are referring serious cases to hospitals and clinics.

Refugee health volunteers are themselves Syrian refugees, who Medical Teams trains and oversees. They operate in more than 120 of Lebanon’s informal settlements, working to reduce the impact of common diseases.

The storm has disrupted health and education services throughout Lebanon. Dubbed “Storm Norma,” it caused wind, heavy rain and freezing temperatures, peaking Tuesday and resulting in flooding and destroyed shelters. Many unpaved roads became muddy and impassable, resulting in stuck cars and slow-moving ambulances.

The storm is expected to clear today, with rainfall resuming next week. In the aftermath of the storm, Medical Teams International will continue to provide aid and relief to the Syrian refugees.

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person—physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Because every person—no matter where they are or how desperate their situation—matters.