Syrian Refugees Face Storm Alexa, The Worst Winter In Decades In the Middle East

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - By the time you read this we will have unwrapped our presents and Christmas would be over. We would be looking to 2014 and all the possibilities the New Year has to bring—though there is one place in the world right now where Christmas did not happen and there’s little hope for the year ahead. It’s the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, where hundreds of thousands of displaced children and adults are suffering from the start of the winter snow storms. Fighting in Syria between government forces and opposing groups continues to escalate, causing widespread death, injury and displacement. The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people have been killed. Two million have fled to neighbouring countries. Children are among the hardest hit. There are one million child refugees, three-quarters under the age of 11.

Terrible things happen to good people. Suddenly, these people find themselves in a situation they never imagined they would be in. Save the Children is working tirelessly through the night in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan evacuating families whose tents had flooded due to the snow. Aid workers here are continuing to battle against the snow, distributing children’s winter clothing and winter kits for adults. In Lebanon refugees live in flimsy tents in the Bekaa valley, fighting against the brutal winter.

These refugees are enduring blizzards, biting winds and freezing rain as the worst winter storm in decades sweeps across the Middle East. The storm, named Alexa, has brought snow, hail, driving rain and icy winds to the region. Conditions are set to get worse over the coming months as winter continues and the number of refugees arriving in Lebanon will rise. This snow is the first sign of the treacherous winter that lies ahead in this region. The suffering for children and their families will go on till March. Between November and February, temperatures can drop as low as minus six. 

Health workers in Syria are reporting an increase in respiratory diseases among children as temperatures dip. Organisations are striving to reach as many people as possible with the resources they have, but with the sheer scope and scale of the crisis, it remains a struggle. Many of the children don't have proper shoes, wearing flip flops, and most only have summer clothing. 

World Vision, an aid agency, highlights the story of one Syrian father in Jordan who says, "We left Syria because our house was destroyed in the conflict and we were scared for our children. Now we're scared of the cold. Perhaps it's better to be killed by someone than to watch your children die of the cold." Their home has no heating or hot water. These people are being left with little hope for 2014 and may not even survive the months ahead. All they seem to have is a legacy of fear. Surely there must be something better than this.

 

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