Extreme weather wreaks havoc for Syrian refugees

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Zatari, Jordon: Extreme weather has wreaked havoc for Syrian refugees living in Jordan's Zaatari camp over the past few days, flooding homes, collapsing tents and forcing hundreds to wait out the storms in emergency shelters or with neighbours and relatives.
Winter storms have swept across Jordan and Lebanon in the past week, bringing heavy snow and rainfall, high winds and freezing temperatures to tens of thousands of refugees living in camps and makeshift shelters across the region.
In Zaatari, Jordan's largest refugee camp home to nearly 85,000 Syrians, dozens of families remained camped in emergency shelters on Friday after their tents collapsed under the weight of snow, which began falling two days earlier.
Many lost all their belongings.

Shadi a Syrian refugee, from Ghouta, rural Damascus, said, ""My children were inside the tent. We were all sleeping. Even we knew about the upcoming storm we had nowhere to go. Our neighbours have caravans, but we did not want to bother them, but when our tent collapsed they came to help us. Most of the tents around here were destroyed. Even we got help; our belongings were stuck inside our tent. They are still underneath. We could not save our mattresses, our blankets, and our clothes."

Refugees try to find whatever cover to protect themselves from the bad weather.
Damaging shelters, the severe weather has brought further disruption to life in the camp.

Heavy rain and melting snow have caused flooding to many areas, damaging belongings and turning streets into quagmires of water and freezing mud.

Fadha, 60, lost her tent.
"When the strong wind came, we felt like our tent was going to fly away. We had to leave our tent and just walked off. How could anybody stay under a collapsed tent?, " she said.
UNHCR teams are sent out to assess the damage to individual shelters and carry out repairs or provide replacement equipment.

Naserddine Touaibia, UNHCR Public Information Officer said, "Being in a camp is already not a confortable situation. But if you add to it this extreme weather and all these strong winds and the rain and the snow, the situation here is pretty bad. The winter is not making it easier for refugees. As you can see the area is muddy. Some part of the camp is flooded. This storm has a big impact on our refugees. It is making their day to day activities even harder."
Emergency shelters were erected in Zaatari for those who lost their tents.
Displaced families can stay until the storm will pass.

Some 600 refugees found temporary safety in these centers. Each district of the Zaatari camp has one community shelter.

With continued poor weather expected, displaced families will remain in the emergency shelters until the storm has passed. -UNifeed
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