Idlib Calling | 9 maart 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: Ceasefire

Friday, March 6

The ceasefire that Erdogan and Putin agreed started went into effect at midnight. It includes a “safety corridor” to be established north and south of the M4 motorway that passes Saraqeb.

“Hi Ahmed, has the ceasefire made any difference?”

“I called some friends in Sarmin and Idlib city and they said there was no fighting this morning. So it’s quiet, for now, at least.”

“As for what I think of it … I told you before that we kind of hoped they wouldn’t come to an agreement. For us, this ceasefire mostly means we won’t go back to Saraqeb or Maaret al Nu’man. The refugees living in tents can’t go back. I’ll stay here with my family in a room we’re renting, visitors in a strange house. Meanwhile, my own city is ruined. Occupied, destroyed and looted.”

“Putin and Erdogan had a problem and they solved it. Good for them. But they didn’t ask us. Because apparently nobody cares. Sorry I’m so cynical.”

“I heard about the call for the no-fly zone. That is important. The first priority is that the killing must stop. Children must be safe. The bombing of schools and hospitals must stop. The question is: and then? What will happen to us? Can we ever go back? And who will help the people in the tents? Where can they go?”

“Oh, one more thing – I’m not just a refugee nowadays. I’m also a taxi driver. I found a car, and yesterday I drove it out to the Euphrates. Tomorrow I’ll start picking people up. I’d rather go back to doing puppet theatre, but first I’ve got to earn some money.”

“Talk to you again soon.”

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