Syrians and Iraqis struggling to cope with war in their own countries or as refugees far from home are now facing freezing weather conditions.
“For four years, we have been living in the depths of the cold in a bloody war, but these days we experience the cold in another way after a snowstorm struck the Middle East,” said a staff member from Caritas Syria in Damascus.
“War has left us without any way to defend ourselves against the cold. We have no electricity most of the time, no fuel and no gas.
“We have no way to stay warm apart from putting on many layers of clothes, which don’t help so much in -8 degrees,” she said.
Several people have been killed as a result of the cold in both Syria and as refugees in neighbouring countries. Many of the fatalities are children.
“We need to put an end to this war, to stop the economic sanctions which made us poor and to tell the world that we are human beings who need help,” she said.
It’s been the biggest storm to hit Lebanon since 1992. Despite the perilous, icy roads, a Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre team has visited Syrian refugees living in makeshift camps in the Bekaa valley.
They found that heavy accumulated snow has damaged many of the shelters where the refugees live and people are struggling to cope with the sub-zero weather.
Caritas organisations in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have supported refugees and other vulnerable people prepare for winter. Caritas has provided fuel, heaters, blankets and bedding, warm clothes and made shelter more resistant to bad weather.
Additional reporting thanks to Jean Khoury, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre.