International

A Winter Storm Brings Misery, Rare Snow To Mideast

An early winter storm in the Mideast has blown down tents in Syrian refugee camps and flooded parts of the Gaza Strip. It has also given Jerusalem its heaviest snowfall in 50 years, and Cairo its first snow in decades.

The storm dubbed Alexa was "pushing temperatures below zero in mountainous areas and dumping snow and heavy rains. The snow has heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the ... Syrians who have fled the civil war raging in their homeland," according to The Associated Press.

There are about 2 million Syrian refugees, mostly in camps across the region, including in Lebanon...

Syrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a refugee camp in the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Thursday. i i

hide captionSyrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a refugee camp in the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Thursday.

Reuters /Landov
Syrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a refugee camp in the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Thursday.

Syrian refugees from the town of Qara gather around a fire to keep themselves warm in a refugee camp in the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Thursday.

Reuters /Landov

... and Turkey

Syrian refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Kilis province, Turkey, on Thursday. i i

hide captionSyrian refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Kilis province, Turkey, on Thursday.

Mert Macit/Xinhua /Landov
Syrian refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Kilis province, Turkey, on Thursday.

Syrian refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Kilis province, Turkey, on Thursday.

Mert Macit/Xinhua /Landov

.. but those in Jordan may be the among worst affected...

A Syrian refugee plays Thursday after heavy rain at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. i i

hide captionA Syrian refugee plays Thursday after heavy rain at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters /Landov
A Syrian refugee plays Thursday after heavy rain at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

A Syrian refugee plays Thursday after heavy rain at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Muhammad Hamed/Reuters /Landov

...as this story from Reuters points out:

"Biting cold and heavy rain beset Zaatari camp, which houses 80,000 of Jordan's more than half a million Syrian refugees. Among them was Khalil Atma from Sanameen in southern Syria who was shivering with his two daughters in a flooded, unheated trailer.

" 'We have come from one tragedy to another,' he said.

"Aid agencies say they are working around the clock to evacuate refugees from flooded camps and distribute food, supplies and clothing, but cannot keep up with demand."

In Jerusalem, NPR's Emily Harris reports for our Newscast unit, the worst snow in 50 years closed schools, delayed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's meeting with the Israeli prime minister, buried cars and knocked down power lines in Jerusalem, high in Israel's hills.

An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman on Friday in Jerusalem. i i

hide captionAn Ultra Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman on Friday in Jerusalem.

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman on Friday in Jerusalem.

An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman on Friday in Jerusalem.

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Emily adds:

"Residents of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave on the Mediterranean coast, say there were snow flurries even there. But rain caused the big problems in Gaza. Some streets flooded knee-deep. Gazan authorities say 500 families were evacuated to higher ground. Before the storm, electricity had been available for about six hours daily in Gaza. Now residents say they're getting perhaps four hours, sporadically."

Life in Ramallah was affected, too, but residents took time to play in the wintry stuff.

Palestinians build a snowman in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday. i i

hide captionPalestinians build a snowman in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.

Issam Rimawi /APA /Landov
Palestinians build a snowman in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.

Palestinians build a snowman in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.

Issam Rimawi /APA /Landov

That's what they did in Egypt, too, where Cairo got its first snow in decades:

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: