Amid war, Syrian Kurds struggle ‘Alexa’ snowstorm in Qamishli

13-12-2013

 

ARA News

Qamishli, Syria− With the approaching third winter of war, millions of Syrians in and outside the country live a state of panic with the need to resist the inclement weather amid a sharp shortage of supplies.

Syria’s north-eastern city of Qamishli saw a heavy snowfall amid a current snowstorm (so-called Alexa) sweeping the Middle East. The city hasn’t witnessed similar storm since decades. 

The storm and heavy snowfall deepened the suffering of Qamishli’s residents who struggle deteriorating economic and security conditions caused by the 1000-days war in Syria. 

The city center was evacuated completely, and seemed deserted since yesterday due to the difficulty of movement under the current weather. 

Qamishli/Qamishlo is considered the largest north-eastern city in Syria in terms of population, of which Kurds constitute a majority.

Although thousands of Qamishli’s residents left their homes and crossed the borders into Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey looking for better economic conditions, the city still sees increasing influx of families from other areas in Syria, especially from Homs and Deir ez-Zour, fleeing the continuous shelling by Assad forces and clashes between the regime and opposition fighters. 

The fact that the ongoing snowstorm may last for few days raised the fears of people in Qamishli, especially with the remarkable shortage of supplies and diesel, thus most of the families in the city are unable to afford the costs of the rare diesel to fire their home stoves and avoid the steadily-decreasing low temperature. 

“The snowstorm left people in a state of panic, and after knowing that it will last few days the worries mounted because of the lack of basic supplies and the urgent need for heating while neither diesel not firewood are available in Qamishlo,” said Ferhad Mohammed, a resident in the city.   

The inclement weather has also caused a total suspension of education as students are unable to reach their schools, beside the shortage of winter clothes most of the families suffer from in Qamishli. 

“We cannot blame students amid the ongoing sever storm, and the directors are also worried of student’s illness because of the difficulty of being provided with sufficient clothes to resist this unbearable weather,” primary schools teacher in Qamishi told ARA News. “Schools are even unable to afford heating costs”.

workers in the marketplace was forced to close their shops and stay home, apparently for days.

“We were forced to close our shops because of the snowstorm which especially affects sellers of fruits and vegetables like me,” Fathi Dawood told ARA News. “Undoubtedly, all stakeholders are affected by the current situation which we hope will not last more than what we can afford.” 

Syrian civil society organizations called on the international community to bear its responsibility towards civilians in Syria, as the majority of displaced people inside and outside Syria lack sufficient shelter and supplies to overcome their third winter of war. 

The storm “Alexa”, which is expected to last for at least four days, is the first of its kind since decades, and several meteorological agencies in the world warned of it.

 

Reporting by: Salim Sulema and Rwaida Alharfoush

Source: ARA News

(Editing by: Adib Abdulmajid)

 

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