The strongest storm in at least 20 years hit the Middle East this week, turning an already complicated refugee crisis in Syria and its neighboring countries into an even more critical emergency.
A humanitarian crisis in Syria due to the country’s civil war has grown even worse as a storm this week has reportedly caused dozens of deaths. At least 17 people have died as a result of the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. Roads have been flooded, schools and businesses closed, and normal life has been slowed or stopped in various areas. The weather though, has not stopped the fighting in Syria.
Refugees there and in surrounding countries were also hit as cold and a shortage of supplies aggravated an already difficult situation.
Refugees from the Syria conflict based in camps in Jordan and Lebanon have been particularly hard hit as their tents were flooded.
Agencies report that tents have been flooded and refugees evacuated in the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan.
Refugees attacked aid workers in the camp on Tuesday with sticks and rocks because of their poor living conditions.
Snow has fallen in parts of Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Jordan.
Ten people were killed in Egypt when a factory collapsed because of heavy rain and many of the country’s ports were closed or working at decreased capacity.
Around 190,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the Syrian uprising began and the government has resisted setting up formal camps as in Jordan and Turkey. Therefore, many have found refuge with friends or family, or in rudimentary dwellings.
Israel’s Meteorological Service said the storm caused the most consecutive days of heavy rain in 20 years.
A Palestinian taxi carrying two women was flooded in Tulkarm on Wednesday, which led to their deaths.
And in Gaza, storms cut-off electricity.
Turkey was also hit as a bus skidded off a road, injuring 30.