Syria's Bashar al-Assad goaded in 'snow bucket' challenge

Young Syrian actor challenges president to brave the cold with country's suffering refugees

As Syria's refugees contend with snow storms and freezing temperatures a young actor has challenged the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, to brave the cold and spend time with citizens who have been displaced by the civil war.

Mimicking the popular ice bucket challenge, Ehab Yousef has filmed himself being covered in snow as he tells Assad to "come out from his hideout and show support for the people who are dying in the refugee camps".

Syria is experiencing some of its worst snow storms in decades, says Al Jazeera, with millions of people who have displaced by war struggling to survive in the face of freezing winds, rain, snowfall and plummeting temperatures.

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"Think of us when you are warm," Yousef says to the president as he dares him to come out for two minutes with his children or spend a night in a camp.

In the video posted on YouTube, Yousef calls for support and donations to those suffering in the cold.

"I urge all the people around the world to donate whatever they can – money, medicine, blankets – to help the desperate refugees in the camps," he says.

At least seven people, including three children, have died in Syria due to the cold weather. Another four have died in neighbouring Lebanon, which has taken in more than 1.1 million refugees.

One mother based in the Lebanese town of Arsal told Al Jazeera: "We have no food, we have no bread, we have no heating oil, and we don't know what to do. We have been forgotten about and we are going to freeze to death."

According to the United Nations, 10.8 million Syrians have fled their homes during the three-year conflict. An estimated 3.2 million have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, with the rest displaced within Syria.

With the fierce winter storms compounding their misery, Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the New York Times: "It is like the seven plagues of the Bible falling on these poor people."

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