Harsh winter weather with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures hit Syria, Lebanon and Jordan on Wednesday, worsening the plight of thousands of Syrian refugees displaced in the region.
Temperatures are expected to hit an all-time 40-year low, reaching minus 14 degrees Celsius and even lower, according to aid organizations, including the United Nations agency for children, UNICEF.
"The situation for Syrian refugees in the region remains extremely precarious as the region goes through some of the coldest days recorded in many years and amid a heavy storm," UNICEF Regional Chief of Communications Juliette Touma told dpa.
Aid groups said strong winds reaching up to 80 kilometers per hour, coupled with heavy hail and snow in mountainous areas, were expected to endanger millions of refugees living in already dire circumstances.
In northern and north-western Syria, tents in refugee camps were blanketed with snow and roads were blocked by snow, activists in the war-torn country said.
The Syria Relief Organization, a non-governmental group, said in the last 24 hours some 47 refugee camps in north-western Syria had been damaged by the storm.
"Some 69 tents were totally destroyed," the organization said.
Meanwhile, in eastern Lebanon where thousands of Syrian refugees are living in informal camps, some tents were blown away by gusty winds and some refugees were stranded in the open air.
"We managed to distribute jackets, gloves, and snow shoes to children from the ages of 2-14 years to protect them from the expected freezing weather," said Maria Assi of the Lebanese aid organization Beyond in the Bekaa valley.
After more than 10 years of a devastating war in Syria, 6.7 million people have been displaced inside the country - believed to be the world's highest number.
About the same number of refugees are estimated to live in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.