Humanitarian crisis strikes regime areas of Syria's Aleppo

This banner hanging at the Bustan al-Qasr passage in Aleppo reads: “It is strictly prohibited to smuggle food, medicine, gasoline, baby products, milk, dairy products, meat, bread, etc.”
 
 
In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, whole neighbourhoods held by the army are cut off from the world because of fierce fighting and a blockade imposed by the rebels. A local resident tells FRANCE 24 about the resulting humanitarian crisis.
 
The inhabitants of neighbourhoods subject to the rebels’ blockade tried to break open the Boustan al-Qasr passage during a protest on Tuesday. The rebels opened fire, injuring several people. The next day, the passage was opened for several hours and some residents were able to procure much-needed goods from the rebel zone.
 
Video of rebels attacking protesters at the Bustan al-Qasr passage in Aleppo on Tuesday.
 
A group of young activists is currently trying to raise awareness of the dire living conditions in Aleppo by posting pictures and personal stories from local residents online.
 
“Save Aleppo” video by Shabab Syria.
Contributors

“Some rebels are making lots of money for themselves thanks to the blockade”

Farid Z. (not his real name) is a Sunni shopkeeper in the al-Sabil neighborhood. He is the father of five children.
 
I live in a mixed but primarily Christian neighbourhood. There are also many displaced people from other Aleppo neighbourhoods. Sometimes, they stay with family members, but they are often forced to resort to living in schools and public buildings, which are already overflowing.
 
Even though the rebels are getting closer, our neighbourhood is the only one in Aleppo that has not really been subject to real fighting or bombing. So we were very surprised by the blockade that was imposed on us. This blockade comes on top of the increasingly frequent water shortages and electricity blackouts. We don’t know who is responsible for these problems.
 
We are lacking in everything, and prices for goods — which were already very high — have just soared in the last few days. All the supermarkets and smaller shops have closed. We must buy the truly necessary goods on the black market, knowing that prices change on an hourly basis and are always increasing. The price of bread has tripled, vegetables are rare, and meat is extremely expensive. People are buying bread patties piece by piece. Gasoline is increasingly rare, and most people get around on foot.
 
Everything that goes into the neighbourhood and even the city goes through the Free Syrian Army. In fact, some rebels are collecting bribes and making lots of money for themselves thanks to the blockade.
 
In rebel-controlled areas, all manner of grocery items are available, given that the rebels control roads to the north of the country and the Turkish border. The Butan al-Qasr passage allows us to get to the rebel zone, but it is closed most of the time. Even when it is open, the trip is very dangerous, with snipers positioned everywhere. Those who take the risk do not know if they’ll be able to come back, so few people try.
 
My brother owns a hundred-year-old house that is in the rebel-held zone. He does not dare go back, but some friends that stayed there have told him that his house has been pillaged, and that even rocks from the façade have been stolen.
 
We don’t know who to turn to. The regular army doesn’t tell us anything, and it doesn’t help us either. We’re completely left to our own devices. If we wanted to leave, we wouldn’t know where to go, and we’d have to move through rebel-held zones, no-man lands, and even combat zones. The probability of getting out alive is very slim. We just hope that an agreement will be quickly reached so we can save what is left of our city.
 
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr).
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