Idlib Calling | 30 januari 2020 | 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.
Every day, people get killed in air strikes and shelling by the Syrian and Russian armies. Children die covered in dust and debris. The war in Idlib is primarily a war against civilians.
A couple of times a month 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: Saraqeb is empty

Suddenly, it happened. An endless stream of refugees leaving the city. Saraqeb used to be a city of more than 40,000 inhabitants. Now it’s empty. Everyone has joined the hundreds of thousands fleeing in front of the advancing army. Ahmed is one of them.

January 28

“Ahmed?”

“………………. (no answer)”

Later I get a voice message via Whatsapp:

“Hi my friend. I’m with a friend in Maaret Misrin, along with my family. I hope we can find a house in Azaz or Afrin tomorrow. I don’t know. We don’t know if they want to occupy Saraqeb or not, but either way, we can’t stay there. They want to control the highway which goes through the city, which means we’re on the front line. So they’ll bomb the hell out of us.”

January 29

“Hi, I’m in Salqin now in the north, near the Turkish border. I’m looking for a house where we can stay. The internet is so bad here. When we’ve found a place, I’ll call you.”

January 30

“Hi, here I am again. We’re in Salqin. We’re staying in a market hall, which is not being used for the market. We’re here with the children and our parents. I’m going to try to find a house. But the most important thing is that the children are safe. Saraqeb is now being destroyed. I hope everyone from Saraqeb is safe. Thank you for thinking of us.”

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