Idlib Calling | 10 september 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: Losing faith

Wednesday, September 9
Standing on the roof, Ahmed can almost see his house in Saraqeb. So close, and yet so far away. After the fall of Saraqeb, Ahmed first fled with his family to Azaz, in the north, to eventually find a place in Binnish. The front line between the Syrian army and the opposition forces separates him from his home, from his past and from his dreams.

“Hi Ahmed, how are you?”

“I feel old and confused. I never thought I would get to the point where I would lose faith in things eventually getting better in Syria.

We’ve moved to Binnish. My brother and mother live here as well. Here’s the thing: the closer to the front you are, the cheaper it is to find housing. We now have a three-room house with our own kitchen for less than half of what it cost in Azaz for just one room. An entire economy has sprung up. Homeowners move in with relatives or live in tents so they can rent out their own homes. It makes me sad. When the refugees came from Ghouta, they could stay with us in Saraqeb for nothing. It makes me mad that people are taking advantage of other people’s misery.

My children are thrilled. They love being with their family and with their grandmother. And they each have their own room!

I’m happy for them. But also sad and confused. All these years I’ve put my energy into working for Syria, for my country. But now I have to focus on taking care of my family. When I look at my kids, to be honest, I realize that they’re future lies elsewhere, not here in Syria.

They’re bombing Idlib again today. On the west side of town, luckily, but we can hear the explosions.

I’m on the roof, you can see Saraqeb in the distance. It’s just 10 kilometers away. I could walk there. But I won’t. The front is right there, and everything of value has been taken from my house.

Sorry I’m so down today. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. Did I tell you, we’re going to make a new video with the theater group. About Corona. Inshallah we are going to start tomorrow and it should be ready in a few days. I’ll send it when it’s done.”

 

 

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