Jordan’s King Abdullah II helped push a car that was stuck in the snow while touring Amman after a major winter storm called Alexa pummeled the region.
Local residents snapped photographs of the King helping a large group of men push a beat up blue car out of the snow on Wasfi Tal Street on Saturday. The images uploaded to Facebook, twitter and other social media sites promptly “went viral.”
An Arabic station uploaded a video of the King, who grinned when the car finally took off on its own; his security entourage ushered him towards the safety of his own vehicle, which looked substantially more capable of handling the bad weather.
Earlier that day, the King stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to help Jordanians cope with the weather conditions, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported, and called particular attention to people living in remote areas.
“That’s what you call a true king,” said one video commentator.
Roughly half a meter of snow fell on Jordan over the weekend, according to local news reports, and 10 million cubic meters of water filled the country’s dams.
(Related story: Snow shocks Cairo for first time in 100 years)
While the water is welcome, and it’s great to see a leader from the Middle East bringing himself down to the same level of his people, the storm is just the first that will have serious repercussions for the country’s numerous refugees.
Za’atari camp, which houses approximately 80,000 of the 500,000 or more Syrian refugees living in Jordan, was particularly hard hit by the storm.
Khalil Atma from southern Syria, who tried to stay warm with her two daughters in a flooded, unheated trailer, told Reuters, “We have come from one tragedy to another.”
Save the Children International worked through the night in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan evacuating families whose tents had flooded due to the snow, according to a press release.
The refugees were moved into child friendly centers where they received warm food and blankets. The aid organization is also distributing children’s winter clothing and winter kits for adults as temperatures continue to hover near freezing.
“This snow is the first sign of the treacherous winter in the region that will only increase suffering for children and their families until March,” the group reports.
“Between November and February, temperatures can drop as low as minus six and with over 2 million refugees in the region, 1 million of them children, the humanitarian crisis will worsen in the coming months.”
Our own Laurie collected hats from around the world to distribute to refugees in Za’atari camp. Read her cautionary tale about saving refugees and the world.