Last updated: 15 January, 2013

Mia Farrow appeals for help for Syrian refugees

Hollywood actress Mia Farrow appealed on Tuesday for the international community to do more for Syrian refugees after making a two-day visit to camps in neighbouring Lebanon ravaged by winter storms.

Farrow, a goodwill ambassador for UN children’s agency UNICEF, said that 75 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon were women and children, and that they were the “most vulnerable victims” of the conflict raging since March 2011.

“Through no fault of their own these people have fled the horror, leaving everything they loved and knew behind, and these are the most vulnerable victims of a war that is not of their making,” she told reporters in Beirut.

Farrow said the living conditions of the refugees in Lebanon were “dire”.

“People are living in a foot of mud,” she said, adding: “I was cold, and I had a coat.”

Farrow’s visit to Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa valley and the northern Wadi Khaled region came after one of the region’s worst storms in years flooded camps and sent temperatures plummeting.

“You can scarcely imagine being in a country that isn’t your own, having seen your own homeland destroyed and then not having clothes for your children… then these storms came and another one is coming,” said Farrow.

“It is an almost biblical conflation of tragedies and disasters.”

But the actress said that while there were some tensions between the refugees and host communities, she had been heartened by the readiness of Lebanese to open up their homes.

She said she had met one couple with three children of their own who had taken in five Syrian families in their three-room home.

Lebanon hosts 197,624 Syrian refugees who are registered or awaiting registration, according to the United Nations.