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Snow Storm Brings Misery for Syrian Refugees

Snow Storm Brings Misery for Syrian Refugees

Thursday, 27 January, 2022 - 11:45
A Syrian boy clears snow from a tent in a displaced persons' camp outside Jisr al-Shughur - AFP

In Syria, days of heavy snowfall blanketed displaced persons' camps northwest Syria where families huddled together under canvas in temperatures well below zero Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

"We've been trapped in the snow for four days," said Abu Hussan, who lives with his family in a makeshift camp outside the city of Jisr al-Shughur.

"We have no shoes. We are soaked with water. The children are sick and walk barefoot. They have nothing."

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said this week that at least 227 displacement sites across the northwest have been hit by severe winter weather since January 18.

"545 tents have been reported destroyed and 9,125 tents damaged by snowfall, floods and winds, along with belongings of displaced people," it said, AFP reported.

In crisis-hit Lebanon, refugees and Lebanese alike struggled to secure fuel for heating as severe weather blocked mountain roads and left Syrian refugees shivering in flimsy tents.

In the small Mediterranean country, where economic crisis has driven more than 80 percent of the population into poverty, fuel prices have skyrocketed after the cash-strapped government lifted subsidies last year.

Conditions have been particularly severe in the town of Arsal, high in the mountains on the Syrian border, where Lebanese families and some 70,000 Syrian refugees have been struggling to cope with the cold.

"Most of the people can't afford fuel for heating," Arsal mayor Basel Hujeiri told AFP.

In neighboring Jordan, heavy snowfall closed roads in the capital Amman and made driving conditions treacherous across much of the country.

Jordan's Meteorological Department forecast more snowfall on higher ground with temperatures expected to fall below freezing again on Thursday night.

Egypt recorded its coldest winter in a decade, with temperatures as much as seven to eight degrees below the seasonal average.

The storm whipped up waves of nearly six metres (20 feet), disrupting shipping in the eastern Mediterranean, the meteorological office said.

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