Idlib Calling | 5 oktober 2018 | by Evert-Jan Grit

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Meet Ahmed, theater producer from Saraqeb, and friend and partner of PAX. His life is no bed of roses. Saraqeb is in the Syrian province of Idlib, in the northwest of the country. Idlib's future is, to say the least, uncertain.
After a period of daily bombings, it is now much calmer. But no one knows what's in store for the area. Residents are doing their best to carry on with their daily lives. Russia and Turkey have imposed a demilitarized zone in order to separate the Syrian Army and armed militias.
A couple of times a week we speak with Ahmed to hear how he and his family are getting on. He says its important for people in Idlib that we here in the Netherlands hear about what's happening. It makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten.

Idlib Calling: half of the family is sick

Wednesday 3 October

Here in the Netherlands, parliament held a debate about Syria. MPs were at each other’s throats on the question of whether so-called “non-lethal aid” from the Dutch government was delivered to terrorist organizations in Syria. The debate was no less heated about whether or not the Dutch government should be supporting any civil society projects at all in Syria. But Ahmed had other things on his mind: half of his family is sick. Luckily, there are decent hospitals in Saraqeb.

“Good morning, Ahmed. You sound like you’re sick.”

“That’s right. But that’s the least of my problems. I hardly slept last night, and yesterday it was a madhouse here.”

“I had to take my wife to hospital. Since out daughter Lana was born, my wife hasn’t been well. She never says anything, but now it’s gotten out of hand. Yesterday she was given some medicine — if it doesn’t improve after ten days, she’ll have to have an operation.”

“That’s one. There’s more. My mother has had a toothache, but since she takes medicine for her heart, I had to take her to the hospital before going to the dentist.”

“Then my other daughter Layal is also sick, and on top of everything I’ve come down with the flu. It’s probably the weather, at least I hope that’s it. Winter is coming.”

“Luckily the medical facilities in Saraqeb are good. We’ve got four hospitals, and three of them don’t charge any fees. They’re supported by international NGOs and by the Turkish government. I went to the “SAMS” hospital – that’s run by a Syrian-American organization.”

“So we can solve most of our health problems here. But if you need a more complex operation, you have to go to Turkey. They let people cross the border for stuff like that. You do get a “return ticket”, since of course they don’t want you staying there.”

“Get well soon, Ahmed.”

“Thanks, talk to you soon.”



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