Dual Deep Freezes | The Center for Victims of Torture

Dual Deep Freezes

Friday, January 9, 2015

Krystal Cooper is the executive assistant in the Office of the Deputy Director at CVT headquarters in St. Paul, Minn.

Though thousands of miles apart, Minnesota and the Middle East shared a strikingly similar weather phenomenon this week – the arrival of a bitterly cold and snowy winter.

CVT headquarters is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, a city and state which are no strangers to tough winters. It’s not uncommon for us to experience temperatures and wind chills well below freezing. Drivers have to inch along on dangerously icy roads.

These are the types of conditions we face now. However, with access to warm coats, hats, gloves, boots and other buttoned-up accessories, we make it through.

Unfortunately, a very severe winter storm in the Middle East has created a dangerous situation for thousands of refugees in refugees in Jordan and elsewhere. Refugees in the region are struggling to endure cold weather, heavy snowfall, and strong winds.

According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Spokesperson Adrian Edwards, the agency is working to assist refugees with shelter and warmth in both urban areas and refugee camps as a result of snow and sub-zero temperatures. Donations of blankets are being distributed directly to refugees and safe shelters are being set up with mattresses, extra blankets, and heaters.

Amman, the most populous city in Jordan and location of our CVT Jordan healing initiative, has also been receiving snow.

UNHCR is particularly concerned about Lebanon, where more than 1.1 million refugees are spread across 1,700 locations.

Back in Minnesota, a social worker and case worker at our St. Paul Healing Center wrote about our work helping survivors adapt to Minnesota winters. Thanks to the many generous donations of cold-weather gear and other items we receive, survivors stay warm. We are especially touched by this story about one survivor:

“Eugene,” a client at our St. Paul Healing Center has been suffering this winter because the cold exacerbates the chronic pain caused by his torture. And since the heat in his apartment is controlled by management, he resorted to sleeping on the floor in a separate, warmer room. But with Target gift cards generously donated, Eugene was able to buy a space heater to warm himself and his family, a few groceries and school supplies for his child.

Last month, Minnesota Public Radio reported on a winter survival skills training for refugees. Conducted by the International Institute of Minnesota, the training helps refugees adjust to winter, including how to walk across ice.

Our warm thoughts are with the refugees and all the humanitarian agencies serving them in various capacities as the winter storm bears down on them throughout the Middle East region.

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