If This Little Syrian Girl Doesn’t Make You Care About Aleppo, Nothing Will
“Last message – under heavy bombardments now, can’t be alive anymore. When we die, keep talking for 200,000 still inside. BYE.”
Fatemah al-Abed tweeted this message on Sunday night from the account she runs for her seven-year-old daughter, Bana, in East Aleppo. After several months of documenting the siege in Aleppo through Bana’s perspective, Fatemah thought this would be their last tweet.
Government forces reclaimed parts of rebel-held eastern Aleppo over the weekend through a series of bombardments which the al-Abed family thought would surely kill them.
As their more than 175,000 followers held their breath waiting for word that the family had survived, the al-Abed’s barely made it out of the siege alive.
Finally, Bana tweeted a message, along with a photo of herself surrounded by dust. They were still alive, but their house had been destroyed.
Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) November 27, 2016
Bana and her mother continued tweeting updates about their situation, saying they were still under heavy bombardment and unsure if they’d survive.
Message – we are on the run as many people killed right now in heavy bombardments. We are fighting for our lives. still with you.- Fatemah Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) November 28, 2016
We have no home now. I got minor injury. I didn’t sleep since yesterday, I am hungry. I want to live, I don’t want to die. – Bana #Aleppo
Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) November 28, 2016
Bana’s tweeting began in September with a simple, powerful message: “I need peace.”
Since then, she’s shared stories of countless bombings, air strikes, phosphorous bombs, death and destruction. She’s lost friends, neighbors and now her home and lived in fear that every day could be her last. When bombs start falling “like rain” near her home, her tweets become desperate, begging for someone to save her and her family.
Bomb hit next house. Pray for us please please please please or save us….. Oh dear world
Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) October 1, 2016
Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) October 2, 2016
When asked directly about Bana’s tweets by a Danish reporter, President Assad called them “propaganda.”
“It’s a game now,” said Assad, “a game of propaganda, a game of media. The terrorists use civilians as a human shield and we have to do our job to liberate them.”
It’s not a game to Bana and her two small brothers. And that liberation? It looks a lot like more bombs.
In order to forget the war, Bana loves to draw with her brothers and, although she can no longer attend school, to study and learn. She loves reading her digital copies of the Harry Potter series, which she got directly from J.K. Rowling herself. Before this weekend, she also liked to play with her dolls. But now, like the rest of her home, they’re lost.
She wants to be a teacher and an author if she grows up. Most importantly, she wants peace.
I love peace more than anything else. – Bana #Aleppo
Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) October 10, 2016
“I want to talk to the world about our life here,” said Fatemah in a post, “and draw attention to the plight of Aleppo.”
Fatemah told The Guardian she started the Twitter account to document their daily life because she wants her children to live normally and is devastated that they can’t.
“We had a lot of dreams for ourselves and our children,” she said. “We want to protect them. We lived part of our lives, but our children haven’t.”
Photo Credit: @AlabedBana