In a video posted online, a Syrian actor challenges his president to spend one night in the freezing refugee camps.
Although most people conjure up images of sand dunes and sunny Mediterranean beaches when they picture the Middle East, people in the region are now experiencing freezing temperatures as snowstorms hit parts of Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, and Lebanon. Syrian and Iraqi refugees, already living in meager conditions, are feeling the full force of this year’s cold snap, as they weather the storms in sparse lodgings situated on the borders on Turkey and Lebanon. In an effort to raise awareness of their plight, one Syrian actor, Ehab Yousef, has challenged President Bashar Al-Assad to a “snow bucket” challenge. In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, Yousef is videotaped barefoot and dressed in shorts and a tank top, lying on the ground as friends dump buckets of snow on his body.
As the snow piles up, Yousef, calling Al-Assad a “criminal”, challenges the beleaguered president and his family to spend at least one night with Syrians in the poorly maintained refugee camps. Although Yousef’s request to the president is mostly tongue-in-cheek, his plea to the world for donations to provide coats and blankets is not. At least seven people inside Syria have already frozen to death and, in Lebanon last week, three refugees were found dead from the cold. According to UNRWA, an estimated 144,000 refugees are living in tents.
“I urge all the people around the world to donate whatever they can—money, medicine, blankets—to help the desperate refugees in the camps,” says Yousef in the video.