Idlib Calling: It’s like time has stopped

May 9, 2019

May 6, 2019
It’s gradually becoming clear: the expected attack on Idlib has begun. The ceasefire in place since September, honoured more in the breach, is now clearly over. In the past few days there has been reports of at least 700 attacks with missiles, cluster bombs, barrel bombs and artillery. Lots of these attacks have been on targets in the so-called demilitarized zone: schools, homes and hospitals. Every day in my timeline on Facebook I see the horrible images of these attacks. But outside my bubble, it remains deafeningly quiet, as if Idlib doesn’t exist. I’m worried about Ahmed, so I call him.

“Hi Ahmed, are you still alive?”

“Of course I am still alive. Why, were you worried about me? It’s quiet again In Saraqeb, but in the south of Idlib all hell has broken loose. We see more and more refugees coming through. They say some villages have been completely deserted.”

“It’s like time has stopped. I’m back in my own house, but it feels strange. Anyone who still has some money is holding on to it, because they may need it soon when it’s time to flee. And we feel abandoned twice over. I can’t describe that feeling — that you’re completely alone and there’s no future.”

“By the way, I won’t be reachable in the next few days. We’re going to record another video clip. It might sound strange, but it’s a welcome distraction. And the previous clip about the checkpoints was a great success – it makes me hungry for more.”

“We are going to re-write a song by Yemeni singer ‘Abd al-Rabb Idriss. Do you know him? He’s very popular here. The song will be about how criminals and armed groups manage to take humanitarian aid for themselves, keeping it from getting to the people who need it. ”

“When the song is ready I’ll share it with. If you want to translate it, please do! By the way, we weren’t able to ask for permission, but I hope ‘Abd al-Rabb isn’t upset that we’re using his song.”

“See you soon.”

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