File - Syrian refugees sit next to their tents in Arsal, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (The Daily Star/Samya Kullab)
This article was ammended on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.
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"Here" is a relatively unpopulated expanse of land covering the nearly 20 kilometers between an Army checkpoint just minutes from Arsal's center and the Syrian border. Owned principally by cherry and apricot farmers from the town, the region is flanked by snow-capped mountains and dotted with orchards, one curious Ferris wheel, mounds of rubble, and, for the past few months, at least 200 Syrian refugee families. Unable to secure lodging in Arsal, a Bekaa Valley town that has doubled in population by taking in more than 40,000 refugees, Sadeek and others managed to find local charities to provide them with materials such as metal rods and tarpaulin to construct their own tents.With 13,500 families staying in the town, according to Fliti, Arsal now hosts half the population of Qara, a city in Qalamoun.Those living beyond the checkpoint are almost all from Qalamoun too. The refugees here sometimes venture to Arsal to ask local charities for food supplies, but harsh winter conditions have kept most entrenched inside their tents.
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