The First Step
Chris Rea’s playing ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ while I’m eating a sandwich from the bar. Around me, men sits alone, starring into their gadgets, as do I. It’s almost empty here at night and only the letters written on luminous blue signs reveals my location. Ataturk airport, Turkey.
Through the last week I’ve been on constant standby. The bureaucracy took it’s turn and demanded extra approval of documents, keys and copies. Finally everything got sorted and I got my ticket. Copenhagen to Istanbul, one-way…
The last ambulances are being prepared for shipping.
Officially I’m sent by the NGO VIOMIS (Knowledge about Islam) to document the distribution of emergency relief collected in Denmark. Personally I’m here to understand.
It all started in October 2011 where I traveled to Damascus. This was while the media were still referring to the conflict as an uprising and to Assad as a despot who’s days were numbered before the end of the year. Back then there were no signs of unrest in Damascus and the fighting in the North only came in to the living rooms through the state lens. The Christian family that gave me shelter were faithful to Bashar al-Assad and did not like their Muslim neighbours.
Abu Bashir and Khalid Alsubeihi from VIOMIS are planning the last details before departure.
This was a city under siege, not by guns but by fear. Under the many watchful eyes of Assad, people lived in fear of what would come. I believe that many of the inhabitants went to bed at night wishing not for a victory for one part or the other, just that it would all be over soon.
A year later about 100 people die every day in Syria. Aleppo’s still the front line and there are not many visible cracks in the Assad facade. The everyday atrocities have become exactly that. Everyday. The news current has turned and now runs over the next conflict.
After arriving in Istanbul the emergency relief has another 1200 kilometers of transport before reaching the Syrian border.
Left behind is the Syrians with an opposition as divided as the international community who’s diverging interests slowly but surely are ripping the country apart. The only thing that seems certain is that the end game, when it comes, won’t be peaceful. Through this journey I hope to connect with some of the people directly affected by this conflict and through their stories try to understand as well as disseminate a reality that is here, now.