Idlib Calling | 11 januari 2019 | 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: Happy New Year?

Wednesday, January 9

For the people in Idlib, the new year has gotten off to a bad start. The jjhadists of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) have begun an offensive to take control of the last few cities and villages in Idlib Province they don´t already control. A few days ago they took over Atareb and now they are fighting for control of Ma’aret an-Numan. Nonetheless, I call to wish Ahmed a happy New Year and ask him how he feels about the last year and what he expects in the coming twelve months.

“Hi Ahmed: Happy New Year!”

“You too. Last year was the worst year since the beginning of the revolution. It feels a bit strange to wish each other a happy New Year, don’t you think? ”

“It’s been raining for a few days now. Normally, we would be very happy with the rain, but for the refugees around Saraqeb it’s horrible. Their tents are in pools of water and people more or less live in the mud. The residents of Saraqeb have brought blankets and slabs to make floors in the tents. We also told the White Helmets that they can give the tent from our theatre to the refugees — they need it more than we do. ”

“Frankly, I’m afraid of what the new year will bring. I can’t really see how things could get better around here. There’s nothing to be hopeful for.”

“Well, actually, there was something — yesterday a 14-year-old boy escaped. He had been kidnapped by a criminal group which planned to ask his family for ransom. Miraculously, he managed to escape. They also found another child in the house where the first boy was being held. Both of them are unharmed, so for that at least, we are happy. ”

“We only have God to help us. I wish it was different, but this is our situation. I’m sorry I can´t make it sound any better than that, but let’s keep calling one another. Talk to you next week.”

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