22 Oct 2014

What I’ll remember from four days in Aleppo

1. Two little girls living in a half-built apartment block, dressed in red t-shirts, who hadn’t been to school for three years, but wanted to show me how they could recite their numbers.

2. The old woman in black who waylaid the governor of Aleppo (below right) to ask for his help in tracing her son who had been “disappeared” by military security.


3. The governor striding round the devastated old souk, now a frontline, four years ago a Unesco Heritage site attracting thousands of tourists.

4. Sitting in the reception of our hotel wondering if the power would come on again after a 24 hour cut, and imagining climbing to the 18th floor if they couldn’t get the generator going.

5. The clock in the centre of Aleppo stopped at 11.45.

6. The student who told me he studied by candle-light because there was no power, and washed in the mosque every morning because there was no water at home.

7. Maria, who told me that Midan St in the Armenian quarter is now called Tora Bora, after the caves of Afghanistan, because it’s been shelled so often.


8. Two little girls on the balcony of a half-destroyed building, a mortar hole in the wall beside them.

9. The falafel with tahini/lemon sauce and pomegranate we ate at a street stall – and the feeling of guilt, wondering about civilians in rebel-held areas and what they eat.

10. Zoozan, a recent graduate in medicine, forced to flee her town by Islamic State militants and utterly sure that she would make a great scientific discovery or do something else exceptional with her life, notwithstanding the war.


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Photos by @thompwalker

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