Dozens of people displaced by war in Syria and Iraq have died in the last week, following an unusually tenacious snowstorm in the Middle East.
Arab newspapers reported Tuesday that 36 Syrian refugees died in Syria and Lebanon last week, among them 24 children. They included 10-year-old Heba Abdel Ghani, newborn twins Noor and Reem Khoundy, and seven-year-old Majed al-Badawi. Likewise, Iraqi authorities reported 17 child refugee deaths in that country, where the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has absorbed those fleeing the Islamic State’s vicious onslaught.
The winter storm, named either “Zeina” or “Huda” by different Arab countries, has brought subfreezing temperatures, as well as hail and up to 10 inches of snow, to areas throughout the Middle East. Refugees fleeing the violence of Bashar Assad’s regime, as well as the Islamic State terrorists, now live in tents not designed to withstand the cold of winter. (RELATED: These Three Charities Are Helping Christian Victims Of ISIS)
While cooking gas shortages and other disruptions to basic services affect most residents, last week’s harsh weather especially affected the refugee populations throughout the region. Al Arabiya reported “dirty water and floating garbage” in one refugee-dense neighborhood in Lebanon. The Los Angeles Times described an eight-person family’s temporary home being quickly reduced to “a circle of chairs covered with fresh snow.”
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the Syrian civil war has forced 10 million Syrians from their homes, either to other locations within Syria or to destinations abroad. The Zaatari camp in Jordan has become the permanent home of over 80,000 refugees, and therefore Jordan’s fourth-largest city. (RELATED: Jordan Deports Syrian Refugees, Watchdog Says)
Middle Eastern refugee aid from the Red Crescent, the U.N., and other agencies has been reduced in recent months. Meanwhile, millions across the region go to sleep each night wondering if their home will collapse before they awake.
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