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Arabic press review: Syrian refugees hit hardest by snowstorms

Elsewhere, Yemeni security forces arrest local TV reporters and Jordanian journalist imprisoned for years by the UAE dies
A woman who fled pro-regime forces attacks in northeastern Syria, clears the snow in front of a tent at camp for displaced people in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad by the border with Turkey, on February 13, 2020. (Bakr ALKASEM/AFP)
A woman clears the snow in front of a tent at a camp for displaced people in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad on 13 February 2020 (Bakr Alkasem/AFP)

Millions of Syrian refugees affected by snow

Heavy snowfall fell on Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan this week, causing major damage, road closures, and a total blackout in some areas. Syrian refugees - in Lebanon and Jordan, and along Syria’s Turkish border - were hit hardest, reported Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Camps for the displaced in northwestern Syria were the country’s most affected, with living conditions deteriorating in tents unable to protect residents from the cold.

There were “tragic” scenes as camps were overrun by rain and snow, leaving the refugees on the verge of a humanitarian disaster, according to the London-based paper.

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The storms also cut off roads leading to the camps, according to the Civil Defence Forces in northern Syria, making rescue missions almost impossible.

Sources in the Civil Defence stated that the rains had “heavily damaged” camps in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where "thousands of displaced people were already suffering the repercussions of the previous cold snap, when many of them lost their tents”.

Syrian refugees in the Lebanese town of Arsal, on the border with Syria, face similarly difficult living conditions, amid a shortage of heating equipment and basic aid, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

To make matters worse, the severe weather conditions caused power cuts across Lebanon, including the capital, Beirut.

In a recently published study, the United Nations found that nine out of 10 Syrian refugee families in Lebanon live in extreme poverty.

TV reporters arrested in Yemen

Security forces in Yemen arrested two journalists while dispersing a protest denouncing the actions of Emirati forces in the Hadhramaut region, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Eyewitnesses told the newspaper that security forces had arrested two TV reporters covering a protest calling for the reopening of the Emirati-controlled Al-Rayyan airport.

Yemeni security forces arrested 17 protesters as they broke up the demonstration.

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TV channel Al-Mahriah condemned the arrest of correspondent Zakaria Muhammad, while the Yemen Shabab channel denounced the arrest of reporter Moataz al-Naqib as a violation of press freedom and international humanitarian law.

Both channels demanded Hadhramaut authorities immediately release their journalists.

Jordanian journalist held for years in Emirati prison dies

Well-known Jordanian journalist Tayseer al-Najjar died on Friday, aged 44, two years after his release from prison in the United Arab Emirates. 

Najjar returned to Jordan in 2019 in poor health after more than three years in prison in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, according to Assabeel.

“He suffered over the past two years,” the Jordanian newspaper reported. “Before losing his life today, [Najjar] wrote many Facebook posts about his experiences in prison.”

Earlier this week, Najjar asked his Facebook followers to pray for him as his condition worsened, but his family announced his death early on Friday. 

Najjar was arrested in 2016 while working in the UAE after security forces discovered a Facebook post, written two years earlier, criticising the Israeli summer war on Gaza. 

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye