BEIRUT (AP) — Freezing winter weather in war-torn northwestern Syria killed two infants in separate displaced persons camps, a doctor and a war monitor said Tuesday.
Record-breaking temperatures and heavy snowstorms have swept across much of the Middle East, from Gaza to Turkey, in recent weeks. The cold and snow have hit many impoverished Syrians and Lebanese hard. At least one child died from the cold in Lebanon.
In northwestern Syria, 80% of the displaced people who live in overcrowded informal camps are women and children, according to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization.
Dr. Mazen al-Talawi, the medical director of the Al-Rahman specialist hospital in the Idlib village of Haranbush, confirmed the deaths of two infants from nearby displaced persons camps.
Fatima Mohammad al-Mahmoud was from the al-Laith camp. At seven days old, she was brought to the hospital at 2 a.m. “with cold limbs, dilapidated pupils, and was unresponsive,” al-Talawi told The Associated Press by phone.
Amina Mohammad Salama, 2 months old, from the Huwar al-Ais camp, arrived at the hospital cold and blue with low blood sugar and extreme pulmonary bleeding at 1 p.m. on Monday. “We received her, her situation worsened and worsened until she died at 6 a.mm,” al-Talawi said.
Roughly 7,000 thousand people live in the town of Haranbush, surrounded by 70,000 people living in neighboring camps, according to al-Talawi. He said the hospital is being inundated by cases because of the cold temperatures.
“We try to get children out of here in a few days because of the enormous number of cases that are coming. The entire hospital only has 15 beds for children and eight cribs. The space is tight and we have no ability to do more,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based Syria war monitor, also reported the deaths, calling on the international community and humanitarian organizations to help the displaced living in the camps.
The northwestern province is the last rebel stronghold in Syria. Around 3 million refugees live there, most of them displaced in camps, according to the United Nations.