Update from Rita on the situation in Aleppo

October 19, 2012by Brenda Pierce

I talked to family again today in Aleppo to see how they were doing.  They were telling me that we don’t even hear half the news of what is happening in the city.

Some of the hospitals are open – the public ones and also the private hospitals – but they do not have enough doctors that are working in them.  One of the reasons is that doctors have been singled out by the government for helping the other side. They have been targeted, so the ones that could leave have left to the US or Canada with their families. Some have come back to the region and are working in the border towns if they can.

I asked them if someone had to go to the hospital as an emergency is that possible? They say yes, but you still need to go through a lot of check points and you are not sure who is manning each check point.  If you tell them you are going to the hospital you will be interrogated to find out why, what happened, etc- so you might be there for a couple of hours explaining and the person you are taking could be dying.  If you get hurt by a sniper and are taken in by a relative or a friend the same thing will happen but it can get worst since they will want to know where you were when it happened and why you were there and whose side are you on, etc.

My cousin was telling me that about 1/2 million residents of Aleppo are displaced and living either with friends or family, in the streets, or in front of buildings.  They had to leave their homes since they were in areas of bombing and they wanted to protect their families.  They now have a hard time in returning.  There is still about 80% of the population of Aleppo still in their homes in the area outside the center in the newer areas of the city.  Pretty much the old part of the city, the Christian quarter, and the Armenia quarter have all been hit and people have moved out of there.  The old homes that had been redone as hotels for tourism are being used by the rebel forces as strongholds, so these historic hotels get targets and an immense amount of destruction has taken place.

The historic Baron Hotel has been hit hard. The tourist hotel in the middle of downtown and the Amira hotel have been destroyed.  The stories of destruction in the old quarter go on and on.  These are the parts of the city that so much money had been spend on to rebuild the old Islamic structures and get the vibrant part of the old city going again, and now they are in ruins.  Aleppo was part of a project that has been going on for years to preserve old Islamic buildings. The architects that were working on this have received numerous awards for their work.  One of them is my ex-husband, and I am so sorry that this is happening since he and so many people had put so much time and blood and tears to do this work and now in just 18 months most of it has been destroyed.  It will never go back to the way it was.  It will be rebuilt like Beirut was after its civil war and most of it will be high rises, but where will the people be and how will they be emotional and physically?  The traumatic effects of war on any person is long lasting and the worst effect is on the children who will be the new generation that will be running this country- how much hate and grief will they have?  How long will the memories last? Look at what Hafiz the father of Bashar did back in the mid 70’s and 80’s and the destruction of Hama – those are the people now that are fighting Bashar since they remember their parents, brothers and sisters, etc that were killed, where in one day Hafez came and destroyed Hama and killed 20,000 people.
Rita Zawaideh

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