Idlib Calling | 15 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: We’ll never be free as long as this keeps happening

Wednesday 10 October

In just a few days, the weapons-free zone around Idlib will be in place. So far, it seems to be going well. The armed groups are pulling back. Bombing raids have stopped, but the armed groups continue to fight one another. In spite of everything, Ahmed and his friends are making the best of it. He’s calling today from the theatre where they’re doing a game with the children.

“Hi Ahmed, what’s new?”

“Good morning. I’m having a cup of coffee in our centre. The kids playing a game called the point. I’ll try to explain it. One by one they have to come up with a move that no one else can imitate. If they succeed, they move to the next point in the hall. The idea is that they have to watch each other closely while at the same time figuring out what they can do that no one else can. Get it?”

“I think so, but maybe I have to see it with my own eyes.”

“That’s OK. The important thing is that we keep busy, especially for the children. There was another bomb attack early this morning, targeting one of the militia’s commanders. He survived, but it just keeps happening. Luckily it was in another part of Saraqeb so my kids slept through it.”

“When I hear an explosion I’m not afraid. I more worried about gunfire or threats. Ten days ago one of my neighbours was kidnapped, did I tell you about that? Yesterday one of them put photos of my neighbour on Facebook, demanding a 200,000 dollar ransom from the family. Terrible. The family is at their wit’s end and will do everything they can to raise the money. I’ll send you the photos.”

[Ahmed sent me the photos. A man who had clearly been tortured stares blankly into the camera.)

“We’ll never be free as long as stuff like this keeps happening.”

“There is some good news. This weekend we’ll do the puppet show in Dadikh. Not many people will have heard of this village, but it’s where my father was born. So it will be a special show for me!”

 

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