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The New Arab

Celebrating against a backdrop of hardship

People braved heavy rainfall in Gaza to celebrate the new year [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2016

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It has been a year of turmoil for most regions in the Middle East, but despite much adversity many were determined to rejoice, as momentarily as it may be.

This week marked the end of 2015, a year that yet again saw turmoil across the Middle East.

It also underscored the resilience of the people across the region and their determination to celebrate despite much adversity.


In Iraq's Ramadi, civilians began to return to their ravaged hometown, after Iraqi commandos re-took most of the city, which had been held by the Islamic State since May.

The United Nations revealed that violence had claimed the lives of 980 Iraqis in December, up from 888 the previous month.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in a statement on Friday that 506 of those killed in December were civilians, 124 civilians of whom were killed in the Anbar province.

It added that 1,244 civilians were wounded in December.


In Egypt, hundreds gathered on New Year's Eve at the Giza Pyramids for a stunning fireworks display and light show broadcast live.

It was a show of defiance and national pride, a bid to revive Egypt's struggling tourist economy after a year that saw two deadly attacks on holidaymakers.


Scores of people greeted Syrians near the crossing of Masnaa on the Lebanon-Syria border following a rare UN-backed deal between Syria's warring sides.

Syrian opposition fighters, some on wheelchairs, others using stretchers or crutches, left the Syrian mountain resort of Zabadani to head to the Lebanese border from where they were to be flown to Turkey.

The evacuation is part of a UN-backed truce deal reached in September for two key Syrian battleground areas that will see the transfer of thousands of Shia and Sunni civilians and fighters from one area to another.

This year saw over 55,000 people killed in Syria - now in its fifth year of war - including more than 2,500 children.


In Gaza, still recovering after the 2014 war which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead, people braved heavy rainfall to celebrate the new year — though Gaza's Hamas rulers had banned New Year celebrations in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

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