This wont take too long because the footage and the photos speak for themselves, the sufferance of my people, our refugees, in nearby Arab countries is more than enough to blurt out the misery and agony they are undergoing in this bitter cold storm striking Lebanon and Jordan [and Syria], 2 countries which are literally packed with over a million Syrian refugees.
Refugees in Jordan, specifically in Za’tari refugee camp, are agonizing under the nonstop rain and hail hammering their thin tents. Many of the refugees who sought refuge in Jordan are wounded and can barely move. Now that many tents have already been destroyed, they have literally got no where to go except to nearby tents of families they may have met in the camp. Since yesterday up until this moment, rain has been falling on Jordan. Activists from the Houran Media Office have reported that up to 80% of the tents had water leaking inside of them. Other reports say more than 70 tents collapsed to ground level, leaving more than 350 refugees in plain air. Also, the only mean refugees use for warmth, blankets, got soaked with water as well, forcing many families to head to the nearest caravans in the camp and open them up in order to hide inside till the rain stops. Temperatures in the desert-like area dropped to nearly 5 degrees Celsius as temperatures still are expected to drop to -3 degrees Celsius tonight since it is going to snow either tonight or tomorrow according to most weather forecasts. Reports said that a 6 year old girl died in Za’tari camp due to the cold, but activists I have spoken to denied these news. [Do note that there are about 50,000 refugees in Za’tari refugee camp, about half of them are under the age of 18.]
Activist Rima Flihan sent SOS calls, reporting that many Syrian refugees within the camp contacted her and beseeched her to speak of their agony as many of the tents completely collapsed due to the ongoing rainfall and hail. The humanitarian situation is extremely horrible and caravans aren’t equipped at all, lacking the most basic accommodations. Refugees also cannot bear with the bitter cold weather but there are no means to obtain warmth.
Photos and videos have been uploaded by activists yesterday and today showing the damage caused to tents and to the muddy streets in Za’tari refugee camp. More photos could be found here.
In this footage taken yesterday, 7/1/2013, inside the camp [starting from minute 1:39], child explains to the cameraman how they had to leave their tent and go to their neighbour’s despite that his dad can barely walk since he is wounded in his leg due to the bombardment. He says:”
“All of our stuff, our blanket,s got soaked with water, and we couldn’t stay in our tent nor sleep in it. We went to sleep in one of the caravans. My dad is wounded, look, here is one of his canes.”
In Lebanon, the situation is worse since there is no specific organization that is taking care of the unregistered Syrian refugees there, which nearly are triple the number of the registered ones with UNHCR (estimated to be more than 150,000 refugees registered). Their conditions are awfully dire since much of them either live depending on aid from neighbours or live in relatives’ houses that are under-equipped or over crowded. Many wounded refugees in Lebanon lack any medical attention; much of them have lost their limbs due to the bombardment and came to Lebanon hoping that they would find a helping hand but couldn’t afford to pay the high costs in many of the hospitals there. In a video taken last year during Layan campaign in winter in Lebanon, a family of 11 is seen living in anything but a house; they are seen all packed in one roof-less room in a freezing cold weather. Another activist recently visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon; Laila says on twitter: “Ive had Syrian refugee children ask me for socks. This is how bad it’s gotten.”
In CNN’s report published yesterday, stories told by the refugees are harrowing and utterly heartbreaking. Families are forced to be packed in small rooms that lack windows, electricity, and basic needs for survival but continue to choose to stay within since the cold weather is intolerable. Hala, a 19 year old refugee who fled Syria with her family on foot, is just one of the many stories told. She says:
“We are not able to get warm either by day or by night. The walls are always damp and it is freezing.”
Another child, Laith, a 14-year old refugee who came to Lebanon two months ago said:
“The problem is that I only have my summer clothes here. It is so cold now and there is no way to get warm.”
In Lebanon, the most needed aid for now is any warmth-related aid, such as blankets, quilts, heaters, and heating fuel. Most refugees in Lebanon lack them all.
My aim is to show a fraction of what my people are undergoing in this storm whilst many of us come down to the streets to play under the snowy skies. I do not intend to make this professional nor do I care about professionalism. These people are humans, hundreds of thousands of them, who have been calling for help whilst you ignore. You have got warmth, but they have not got any. Much aid is needed and the world continues to watch. We, including myself first, are responsible. The world’s ignorance is unforgivable. Nothing more to say as again, their agony speaks for itself.