The Snow That Keeps on Coming

22 January 2015

“This is the situation for Syrians: they either freeze to death, die under torture or starve to death. Many ways but death is one,” contemplated Noha Swaid.

As if death by chemical weapons, detention centers and aerial bombardment was not enough for the angel of death to quench its thirst for Syrian blood, and as if the humiliation of the refugee camps and the suffering of the homeless is not enough: snow becomes another death trap for Syrians.

The snowstorm, described by many as the coldest in the last few years, was a major topic of discussion between Syrians on social media. The storm comes at a critical time when support for Syrians from international organisations begins to dry, and the avenues of escape, e.g. to Lebanon, close one by one.

A work by artist Alaa al-Laqta. Source: Dawlaty.

Shahrazad Jundi declared that “planet earth issued restrictions on the entry of Syrians.” While artist Alaa al-Laqta painted the camps slowly transforming into graveyards.

But no image is more apt in describing the true extent of the tragedy than those of the powerless children freezing in their tents. In Children of Camps, artist Yasser Ahmad paints a snowman honoring the courage of a young child facing the many deaths of Syria.

Many artists decried the heartlessness of a world watching a tragedy unfold at its door step without even blinking, or, as in Omran Faour’s painting, offering them ice skates as humanitarian aid. But they also raised questions about the criminally inadequate response of the “armies” of activists and humanitarian organisations in Lebanon, and how it chooses to spend its aid budget in response to a tragedy that repeats itself every year.

Children of Camps, a work by Yasser Ahmad. Source: Yasser Ahmad's Facebook page.

To Syrians inside the country the storm is a harbinger of death of a different kind. The weather conditions protects them from the regime’s pilots but they bring what is worse than death. “No water, no electricity, no fuel. It’s cold, cold, freezing our bones. God, we ask you not for much but to die. Is that too much to ask for, god?” pleads Abduulkarim Omaryn from Homs. In Damascus, Michel Shammas, a lawyer describes how the family gathered in one room to keep themselves warm, “the kitchen, the bedroom, they turned into a refrigerator. The freezing cold surrounds us, we can not sleep. My only thoughts are with the detainees and the refugees.”

Nevertheless, and even with death looking them in the eye, Syrians could not forget that this the price they are made to pay for their freedom. Even snowmen believe in freedom.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad