I wept. During the previous fifteen minutes the video camera had shown us around the neighbourhood of rubble and damaged buildings on Bana’s block. About twenty different HQs of militant groups had been identified in that small space.
Interviews with residents, ordinary decent men who had been through a lot, answered questions about what it had been like there during the occupation. Arbitrary detention and beatings, if not worse, was what you’d expect if you tried to raise any concerns about amenities with the warlords in charge of the district. When the interviewees were asked did they take videos or photos of the area at the time, they looked askance. It had been strictly prohibited to anyone other than members of the terrorist groups to take any sort of photo or video. You could see from their faces that they would not have been about to go against prohibitions. Did they know a little girl called Bana? They didn’t seem to.
But as the camera roved around it captured scenes and camera angles that reproduce images and films we’d seen before. And, at a certain point, towards the conclusion of this episode of his exploration, Khaled Iskef slowly walks to us in a familiar looking scene; and then the film cuts to a recording of the little girl coming towards us in that exact same place. At that moment, and even thinking about it now it happens again, I wept.
We are now seeing what the real life was for Bana. May she be allowed to grow up now in peace. My heart goes out to that poor child.
Perhaps one day she may return to Aleppo. There was no #holocaust aleppo, no massacre, once the government regained control of the area. The fighters left, and people began trying to rebuild lives.
I shall leave you with a picture of Aleppo from this summer. This is where Bana might have been playing right now, with her friends, if the rest of the world had left her country alone.