SYRIA

Return to Homs: A Syrian expat reports on daily life in the embattled city

 For the past few months, the images filmed by activists in the rebellious city of Homs, besieged by Syrian security forces, have been depressingly repetitive: snipers shooting from rooftops, constant shelling, and bloody corpses. One activist, however, has decided to show the city differently: through videos, photos and tweets, he paints a detailed picture of daily life in Homs, between bombings. 

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For the past few months, the images filmed by activists in the rebellious city of Homs, besieged by Syrian security forces, have been depressingly repetitive: snipers shooting from rooftops, constant shelling, and bloody corpses. One activist, however, has decided to show the city differently: through videos, photos and tweets, he has paints a detailed picture of daily life in Homs, between bombings.

Mulham Al-Jundi is not a typical citizen journalist. He comes from Homs, but was working in Saudi Arabia when the anti-government uprising began a year ago. Sick of watching his city being bombed on television, he travelled back to Homs in mid-February with a mission: to tell the world the full story of what was happening there. His photos of daily life, a selection of which are published below, serve as a reminder that people live on amidst all this violence.

“Children mostly stay at home, terrified by the sound of bombings”

We spoke to Al-Jundi a few days ago, while he was still in Homs. He has since returned to Saudi Arabia to undergo surgery on his leg, which was shot by a sniper. He plans to go back to Syria soon.

 

I decided to go back and report from Homs because the situation has gone from bad to worse, and because the images the international media receive only show a tiny fraction of what’s really going on there. I decided to film several reports, in both English and Arabic, to show the reality of life in Homs, where the Syrian regime is massacring the population.

 

Daily life in Homs is very difficult – it’s even worse than I had imagined. [Al-Jundi reported mainly from the neighbourhood of Al-Zytoun, which is regularly shelled by security forces, but which has not suffered as much as the neighbourhood of Baba Amr]. Children and teenagers don’t spend much time in the street; they mostly stay at home, terrified by the sound of bombings. Of course, they don’t go to school. Street markets and stores are now closed. The city’s administration has also shut its doors. There are frequent cuts in electricity and water; these often last two or three days. The mobile phone network is completely down. It’s as if we were cut off from the world.

 

“We have to avoid sniper fire – we’re always running”

 

Filming and taking photographs in Homs is very difficult. Those of us who do this take many risks because it’s very difficult to move from one neighbourhood to another. The main streets are full of barricades that are impossible to get past. We try to take side streets, in which we have to avoid sniper fire. Consequently, we’re always running. Then there’s the problem of uploading images to the Internet. Internet connections don’t work in some neighbourhoods, so we have to take even more risks and travel between neighbourhoods to find connections that work.”

 

Al-Jundi in a makeshift hospital in Homs last week with one of his friends, who is badly wounded. He explains how this happened.

 

Another makeshift hospital. 

 

A toddler is treated by volunteer nurses in a makeshift hospital.

 

A sniper's bullethole.

 

A child shows of the remains of shells that rained down on his neighbourhood.

 

This was once a primary school.

 

Inside the school.

 

Cutting down trees for firewood, as there is little petrol left for heaters.

 

A home damaged by the army's bombings.

 

A man packing up his family's belongings to flee Homs. Our Observer said this man did not know where they were headed.