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Cordaid NL
Humanitarian Aid

Eyewitness report from battleground Aleppo #2

Adnan, Cordaid’s humanitarian aid worker inside Aleppo, gives an update on the situation in his city. His own house was shelled and destroyed recently. He and his family survived, some neighbors didn’t. “But amidst the madness of war, I am happy to say that our work continues. As we speak people are being treated, operated and saved in the mobile clinic that is financed by Cordaid.”

A few months ago we shared a first eyewitness report from Adnan. Things haven’t got any better.

What’s the situation inside Aleppo at this moment?
“There’s an escalation of violence on both sides, from the government as well as the opposition. Mainstream foreign media focus on the destruction of the east, which is being attacked by the government. Last week the last still functioning public hospital was shelled in that part of our city. But I live in the western part – in fact, I cannot even enter the eastern part as I would immediately be associated with the regime and would end up being hanged in a public space or beheaded.

“We feel the rumblings of destruction and we know we could be the next ones to die.”

I do want to stress that the west is a warzone as well. Explosives that hit us come from the opposition forces. Three days ago, a day after the bombing of the hospital, a public elementary school in the western part was targeted by opposition missiles. 8 children died on the spot, some 30 kids got injured. Wherever you live, it’s the citizens who pay the price and struggle to survive.”

Aleppo

One of the pupils of the public elementary school in western Aleppo that was bombed last Sunday. Photo: Tawfik A. Amraya

How close is the shelling to where you live?
“Three weeks ago our building block – in a residential area with no government or military buildings whatsoever – was destroyed by a remotely controlled car bomb. Before that, heavy shelling took place in our neighborhood. My pregnant wife, my daughter and myself managed to hide in the basement just before our house was totally destroyed. Dressed in our pajamas we hid with 20 other people, packed for 8 hours in a 15 m2 room. No water, no food, no toilets, babies and children crying. We survived, but two of my neighbors died. We found shelter at a friend’s place, as our house has become uninhabitable. It was even looted shortly after the attack. We won’t go back anytime soon, as the house is in ruins and the place is very unsafe and could be targeted again. My four-year-old daughter doesn’t understand. We tell her robbers attacked us.

“We don’t plan a day ahead, we live by the hour. This is our daily life, night and day.”

Every single citizen of Aleppo, east or west, goes through this. Every family has lost someone. Every hour we hear the shrieking sound of falling mortars, then the explosions, then the wailing and crying of people who are in shock, then the ambulance sirens. We feel the rumblings of destruction and we know we could be the next ones to die. City alarm systems do not work in the western part of the city. We wait in fear and then, when silence has returned, life goes back to normal: we send our kids to kindergarten, take the bus, drive around, go to friends, work, eat, sleep. We don’t plan a day ahead, we live by the hour. This is our daily life, night and day.”

Do you manage to continue your work, given the circumstances?
“After we lost our house I was in shock for a week. But humanitarian work does not stop. And I am happy that amidst the destruction of war we can continue to organize aid. We are now setting up a project to make sure that disabled children can go to public school, even in times of war. Apart from that, Cordaid continues to finance the field kitchen that is serving hot meals in Aleppo. And the mobile clinic or hospitainer Cordaid is financing in the eastern part of Aleppo, in the refugee camp of Al Nayrab, is now fully operational. As we speak, medical staff is operating and giving medical emergency treatment to people, whatever their background, religion or gender is.”

What took you out of the shock?
“Frankly, the feeling that life must go on. Yes, my house is gone, people die, family members, friends, neighbors. But my kids and my wife survived. This gives me the power to hold on, start all over again and keep on hoping that tomorrow will be better.”

photo credit cover: Chiang Mai Diocese 157769269 via photopin (license)