Syrian dares Assad in snow bucket challenge

Actor calls on Syrian leader to spend night in camp in campaign to raise support for refugees suffering during winter.

Ehab Yousef got himself covered in snow for two minutes in support of refugees [YouTube]

A young Syrian actor has urged President Bashar al-Assad to do more to support refugees sheltering in makeshift camps as the country is experiencing one of its worst snow storms in decades. 

In a video posted online, Ehab Yousef gets himself covered in snow and challenges the Syrian president to come out in the cold for two minutes with his children or spend a night in a camp.

Assad “needs to come out from his hideout and show support for the people who are dying in the refugee camps”, Yousef said as he launched the snow bucket campaign “Think of us when you are warm”. Yousef’s snow challenge video

The campaign mimics the ice bucket challenge that spread across the world in a bid to create awareness of ALS disease and raise money for research.

Yousef called for support and donations for those suffering the severe snowstorms every day, as he shivered with cold.

“I urge all the people around the world to donate whatever they can – money, medicine, blankets – to help the desperate refugees in the camps”, he said. 

Millions of people displaced by war are experiencing freezing winds, rain, snowfall and plummeting temperatures in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – the four countries with the highest numbers of registered Syrian refugees.

Seven dead

At least seven people have died inside Syria in the past week due to the cold weather and shortage of medical treatment and heating.

Children twins and an elderly men died in Aleppo, one child died in a suburb of Damascus, a child and an elderly man died in Deir Ezzor, and one child died in Daraa.

In Damascus, 30 critical cases were recorded from ambulance responses, Leen Kilarji, the information management officer for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent , told Al Jazeera.

Syrian refugees die in cold weather

Kilarji also said the disaster management unit rescued 33 homeless people during the storm and provided them with temporary accomodation.

“The sad part is, we finally saw a peaceful few days with no bombardment and attacks, but then came the storm. We are providing shelters, but still it’s very cold. What about the people at the camps?”.

In neighbouring Lebanon at least four Syrian refugees died last week due to lack of heating and protection from the freezing cold.

Thousands of refugees have been left stranded in the Bekaa Valley with very little food and heating, as road blocks caused by the storm has hindered access for aid agencies.

“We are slowly dying here, no one is coming to help us and we have nothing,” Umm Abdo, a Syrian refugee based in the town of Arsal told Al Jazeera , adding that she was worried about the children living with her, who may suffer from hypothermia.

“We have no food, we have no bread, we have no heating oil, and we don’t know what to do, ” she said, crying. “We have been forgotten about and we are going to freeze to death”.

At least 100 shelters and tents have been damaged due to the storms in Lebanon alone, which has taken in more than 1.1 million refugees, according to the UNHCR.

Syrian campaigns

Previous winters, several campaigns have been conducted in show of support of those suffering.

In Ottowa, the Canada-based Syrian Student Association raised more than $22,000 in the #KEEPUSWARM campaign over the last year.

University students spent two hours under the snow in shorts and tank-tops to raise money and awareness about the Syrian refugees’ situation. With each donation of a minimum $10, a student was allowed to warm up for three minutes under a blanket.

Source: Al Jazeera