With Syrian refugees, mainly children, beginning to die from the winter cold, a Syrian actor has put out a video challenging President Bashar Assad to take the "snow challenge," Al Jazeera reports.
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In the video, actor Ehab Yousef has himself covered with buckets of snow, then dares Assad to match him by spending a night in a freezing refugee camp, or even just standing outside in the cold with his children for two minutes.
The president, says Yousef, "needs to come out from his hideout and show support for the people who are dying in the refugee camps." Addressing Assad, the actor adds, "Think of us when you are warm." Yousef's campaign derives from last summer's "ice bucket challenge," in which people drenched themselves with ice water to raise money to fight ALS disease.
Shivering, Yousef says, "I urge all the people around the world to donate whatever they can – money, medicine, blankets – to help the desperate refugees in the camps.”
In the past week, five children and two aged men died in Syria alone from the cold and from shortcomings in medical treatment.
"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?" said Leen Kilarji, spokesman for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
In Lebanon, at least 100 shelters and tents for Syrian refugees were damaged by the storm. Thousands of refugees were stranded outdoors in the Bekaa Valley with very little food, as weather conditions prevented rescue workers from reaching them.
"We are slowly dying here," said Umm Abdo, a Syrian refugee in the Lebanese town of Arsal. "No one is coming to help us and we have nothing."
Three million Syrians have become refugees outside the country's borders, mainly in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, since the civil war began nearly four years ago, according to the United Nations. Another 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country as a result of the fighting, which has killed 200,000 people.