Snow in Syria

Frost in the Middle East

Giovanni Caccialanza7 February 2022

The whole Middle East is freezing these days. Temperatures have plummeted abundantly below freezing, snow has descended to whiten everything, ice bites the roads, reduces the muddy ground to a stone slab.

Frost in Syria

In Syria, the situation, already compromised, has precipitated due to frost.

This is not good news for all the people that syria’s war has left without everything. The alarm has been raised by the UN, which cries out in horror at what is happening in the refugee camps in the north-west of the country. Near Idlib and Aleppo, where the war is still hot, 2.7 million displaced people live in 1300 refugee camps, overwhelmed by frost and rendered unusable by snow.

And the situation is serious throughout the country.

Ayham’s Testimony

Our project manager, Ayham Khoury, told us about it, who told us what is happening in the country in these dramatic days. “We don’t have gasoline, no diesel to keep us warm, and we can’t run electric generators.”

Even basic services are struggling to function, so much so that, Ayham tells us, “the government had to formalize ten days of vacation to try to stop all activities and safeguard the reserves of diesel and fuel”, essential for heating. This joins an already rather gray picture: for several months now, in Syria electricity has been supplied only for a few hours a day (about four, says Ayham), and it is thus impossible to operate stoves and other means of heating.

The government tries to cope with the wave of frost as it can, but often with meager results. In an effort to have more funds for the purchase of diesel and fuel, since Tuesday, the government has suspended the distribution to millions of families of goods such as bread, rice, oil, sugar… This, of course, was a blow to the families. “The family needs of a nucleus of five inhabitants are covered today by an income of 600 dollars a month; today, in Syria, salaries average between 50 and 100 dollars”.

“The situation is really complicated,” Ayham adds.

Frost in Lebanon

And the same happens in Lebanon. Here, too, a very serious economic crisis has brought the country to its knees for some time. And here too there is a shortage of electricity distributions, which is available to the population only for a few hours a day.

Fadi Bejani, our project manager, told us that “people have had to burn their clothes and shoes these days to try to heat at least one room inside their homes”. In the darkness of a country now without a future, one is forced to see one’s goods consumed in the flames, in order to keep a spark of heat lit. And this is just one of the many stories that come from the heart of the frost in the Middle East.

“The only way we can keep people warm, in the absence of fuel and electricity, is to give them blankets.” This is what happened last week: in less than ten days, all of intense frost, Pro Terra Sancta managed to collect numerous blankets, which it promptly distributed in its emergency center in Beirut. It will happen on the same Friday (today, ed.).

The distribution of the blankets, Fadi is keen to emphasize, took place very quickly; but “it is very difficult to organize for the emergency; it all happens too quickly.” In addition to the blankets, electric stoves were also donated by Pro Terra Sancta. In the few hours that the government supplies power every day, they will be able to keep people warm.

“They say that in the next two weeks the temperatures will drop again,” Fadi says worried. “Let’s hope everything goes well…”.