SYRIA – Aleppo sporadic fighting still going on despite ceasefire
Aleppo is still far from peaceful after its costly liberation: despite the agreed ceasefire between Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria, sporadic gunfire continues in the beleaguered city. The director of the German branch of the Catholic charity ” Aid to the Church in Need”, Karin Maria Fenbert was in Aleppo recently and met bishops and other Christians there.
“Not everything is destroyed in Aleppo: There is a big difference between the East and the West. Five million people lived in Aleppo before the war, but now there are a maximum of two million” says Fenbert. “There are different degrees of destruction in the eastern part. A district where there was a former center of the Jesuits was severely affected. There are quite terrible scenes.” In West Aleppo, on the other hand, people suffer particularly from the bomb disposals. People here speak of up to a hundred detonations per night, “said Fenbert. “Many window panes are broken as a result.”
Fenbert stayed in two different accommodations during her stay in Aleppo. She had noticed the importance of intact window panes. “Not only is it quite cold, around freezing point, but there are almost no heating possibilities as oil production in Syria is blocked. Fuel oil is expensive.”
Daily life has also been more difficult since the town’s electricity plant was bombed. “Most of the houses in Aleppo are multi-storey, but the elevators do not work. So you have to run around with torches” says Fenbert. Internet is the only source of information. “A doctor who lived in Germany in the 80s and spoke perfect German told me that there are now no longer any books and newspapers in Aleppo. He only gets information about the Internet, but that also needs electricity” says Fenbert. Many people in the western part had electricity generators.
Since the 23rd December ceasefire last year, there has been some hopeful news. Christians and Muslims alike gathered in the streets to admire the Christmas decorations that were put up in Aleppo. Almost no people were seen on the street before, because many were afraid of snipers.
Only ten percent of the Aleppo area is affected by this agreement between the Turks, Russians and Iranians. In the other part, which accounts for 90 per cent, sporadic gunfire is still heard.”
ACN cooperates with other relief organizations and organizations such as the Caritas, the Jesuit Relief Service and the Red Crescent (attached to the Red Cross). “Education is promoted, so that the courses at the university can continue. The university buildings seemed largely intact to me. There are of course many religious and priests who support us. An important concern of ACN was to ensure uniform aid was provided among the relief organizations as there are many different Christian denominations.