A Winter Storm Brings Misery, Rare Snow To Mideast

· Dec. 13, 2013, 7:16 pm

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…

… and Turkey

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

…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.

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.

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

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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