Syrian war: Red Cross doctor’s heart-breaking letter from Aleppo
8 December 2016
As some of the most vulnerable people in Aleppo were moved from a former old-people’s home near the city’s front line on Wednesday, a Red Cross doctor involved in their evacuation sent the BBC this letter:
Working as a doctor for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), I have seen many things in Syria during the past five years. But nothing like this.
We’d tried to reach the centre the previous day, but couldn’t get the necessary security guarantees. The fighting had been too intense. Three people at the centre died during that time.
Now we’d got permission to go to the former old people’s home, which had become a refuge for around 150 people, some disabled, some mentally ill and the rest just desperate people with nowhere else to go.
We, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the ICRC, were there to take them out of eastern Aleppo.
It was already going dark as we drove into the narrow streets of the Old City. I’d known the area before the war, a thriving, bustling place.
Now, it was a sea of rubble. I couldn’t recognise streets, never mind buildings. A ghost town of smashed concrete. An end of the world place. Like a fury had swept through.
Gunfire rattled in the distance but here there was no noise, no people.
We had to walk the last bit that vehicles couldn’t pass.
In the midst of the landscape, two crumbling buildings. One building for the men, one for the women.
We entered the yard. A group of patients sat huddled round an open fire. They had few clothes and were shivering. Many looked bemused. They were very near to each other, pushing their shoulders together, looking around, trying to reassure one another.