Syrian Refugees Experience ‘The Psychological Warfare’ Of Winter Cold

Like those who survived the lengthy power outage in Toronto a year ago December, many Canadians have experienced living conditions too cold to be believed. It’s not the same as winter camping, when you come prepared and go home on Sunday. Having the elements invade your home is quite a different thing.

Millions of Syrian families are experiencing that kind of cold right now. It may come as a surprise to many Canadians that places like Lebanon and Turkey actually get extremely cold in the winter months, making life even more miserable for people who have fled conflict to live in refugee camps.


It’s something World Vision photographer Ralph Baydoun experienced this week, when he chose to camp out in an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, to get a sense of what the families there experience all winter long. A snowstorm was expected. Ralph documented the refugees’ preparations, their survival tactics over a 24-hour period — and his own sense of fear and dread. “It was a psychological war that I was fighting,” Ralph recorded. “The wind was growing stronger and the tent was shaking all around me. I tried to squeeze my head and neck into my sleeping bag, because they were freezing.”