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From Algeria to Syria, heatwaves scorch Middle East, North Africa

Temperatures are soaring worldwide, reaching scorching levels, with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) far from spared.

Temperatures in some parts of the MENA region are currently the highest in the world, with several countries breaking records, prompting the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to issue a warning.

“Temperatures in North America, Asia, and across North Africa and the Mediterranean will be above 40C [104F] for a prolonged number of days this week as the heatwave intensifies,” the WMO said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These are not your normal weather systems of the past. You have to do climate repair to change it,” said WMO’s senior extreme heat adviser, John Nairn.

Wildfires are raging across the region, authorities are having to issue advisory warnings, and many places are facing power cuts.


In Algeria, five states were listed as places with the highest temperatures in the world in recent days, according to El Dorado Weather, which keeps a log of daily temperature extremes, some of those breaking records.

Basma Belbagaoui, an expert on the country’s environment and climate change, said some of these regions are seeing temperatures as high as 51C (123.8F) due to “low atmospheric pressure” which has led to the “formation of a heat dome”.

Authorities have raised the level of alert to the maximum in light of the record-high temperatures.


In the besieged Gaza Strip, a heatwave has worsened power outages, igniting scorn among residents against authorities.

The Palestinian Authority, which pays for the electricity feed from Israel, is placing the blame on the group Hamas that runs Gaza, saying they are the ones responsible for collecting electricity revenues.

More than 2.3 million people live in the narrow strip wedged between Egypt and Israel and have been under a 16-year-long Israeli blockade that some rights groups call an open-air prison. It normally suffers from power cuts for up to 12 hours a day.


Wildfires raged across the central Syrian countryside as temperatures reached 40C (104F) in some parts.

Fires broke out in the Hama and Homs provinces. Some families had to flee their villages due to the wildfires, local media reported.

The SANA news agency reported that temperatures in the country were on average up to 6C (10.8F) higher on Tuesday, with active gusts and “very hot clouds”.


Fires have also been raging in Lebanon’s mountainous and green forested areas, particularly in the area known as Wadi Jahannam or Valley of Hell, in a remote area of North Lebanon.

The Lebanese army managed to put out the fires with helicopters and its fighting teams, as many occurred along slopes and rugged areas, burning a large number of fir and cedar trees, and turning parts of the forest to ashes.

“There is a fear of reaching a state of drought that will negatively affect the agricultural sector and livestock,” the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture warned this past week, saying it is a ramification of the heatwave.


Tunisia is witnessing a record heatwave for the second week in a row, with temperatures in the capital of Tunis reaching 49C (120.2F).

Meteorologist Hamdi Hashad told Al Jazeera that the heatwave in Tunisia cannot be viewed in isolation from the rest of the world.

He explained that the temperatures in the areas bordering the Mediterranean are 5C (9F) above normal temperatures.


Jordan’s capital Amman saw a temperature of 39C (102.2F) on Wednesday, while the highest temperature in the kingdom was recorded in the Ghor al-Safi region, at above 46C (114.8F).

The Meteorological Department advised citizens to drink plenty of fluids, avoid direct sun, and wear light clothing and hats, especially for high school students currently sitting for exams.

Forest fires also raged in northern Jordan, in the cities of Ajloun and Jerash, as aircraft and about 178 tonnes of water were used to control them.


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Dirar Mourad

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