Winter in Palestine: A Swedish Perspective
by Hanan (Interpal A/W 2016 Intern)
When you think of ‘winter’, you are probably imagining Sweden. Snow, ice, reindeer, we have them all. During winter-time the temperature falls below zero, encasing the land in a thick blanket of snow that doesn’t melt for months. You might think that by our standards, the Middle Eastern winter in Palestine isn’t so much of a big deal. How wrong you’d be…
The big difference is that we have lots of warm clothes, cosy, heated houses and enough food to keep us snug and comfortable for the whole season. The Palestinians, despite it rarely snowing, face months of relentless rain and wind, with inadequate shelter and protection due to ramshackle housing and poor electrical facilities.
Despite the freezing temperatures in Sweden, we rarely ever feel cold. However, for the Palestinians, the drop in temperature has a severe impact, resulting in disease epidemics, poor sanitation and disruption to healthcare and educational services. Back home in Sweden, we have buses to take us safely to school and ploughs to clear the roads so that daily life can continue as normal despite the severity of the weather. The people of Palestine however, especially in Gaza, face environmental hazards and are particularly prone to catastrophic flooding. Left unprotected from these seasonal risks, Palestinians are forced to always consider what their next step will be. The most we think about in Sweden is whether our boots will be slightly damp from the snow.
The 2014 assault on Gaza left thousands of buildings damaged and rendered houses unliveable. During the winter months, conditions deteriorate until people are living precarious existences in the midst of poverty. I cannot imagine a winter exposed to the elements in this way. The thought of it makes me shiver.
This winter, Interpal are asking that we come together for Palestine to bring people #OutOfTheCold. You can donate to our Winter Aid appeal by calling us on 0208 961 9993, visiting our website www.interpal.org or clicking the link on our Facebook page. Our hands might be cold but our hearts will surely be warm if we come together to help Palestinians in need.