Lindsey Hilsum on International Affairs

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October 22, 2014 3 Comments

What I’ll remember from four days in Aleppo

1. Two little girls living in a half-built apartment block, dressed in red t-shirts, who hadn’t been to school for three years, but wanted to show me how they could recite their numbers.

2. The old woman in black who waylaid the governor of Aleppo (below right) to ask for his help in tracing her son who had been “disappeared” by military security.

22 governor w What Ill remember from four days in Aleppo

3. The governor striding round the devastated old souk, now a frontline, four years ago a Unesco Heritage site attracting thousands of tourists.

4. Sitting in the reception of our hotel wondering if the power would come on again after a 24 hour cut, and imagining climbing to the 18th floor if they couldn’t get the generator going.

5. The clock in the centre of Aleppo stopped at 11.45.

6. The student who told me he studied by candle-light because there was no power, and washed in the mosque every morning because there was no water at home.

7. Maria, who told me that Midan St in the Armenian quarter is now called Tora Bora, after the caves of Afghanistan, because it’s been shelled so often.

22 caves w What Ill remember from four days in Aleppo

8. Two little girls on the balcony of a half-destroyed building, a mortar hole in the wall beside them.

9. The falafel with tahini/lemon sauce and pomegranate we ate at a street stall – and the feeling of guilt, wondering about civilians in rebel-held areas and what they eat.

10. Zoozan, a recent graduate in medicine, forced to flee her town by Islamic State militants and utterly sure that she would make a great scientific discovery or do something else exceptional with her life, notwithstanding the war.

22 rubble w What Ill remember from four days in Aleppo

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Photos by @thompwalker

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October 19, 2014 1 Comment

Armenians in Aleppo regard Turkey as ‘first enemy’

At least half of Aleppo’s Armenians have left the country. Once again, their community is divided and endangered. And once again, they regard Turkey as the chief cause of their problems.

October 17, 2014 No Comments

Living in Aleppo: half-built buildings with no walls

The physical damage to Aleppo is shocking, but the destruction of people’s lives will be much harder to repair.

October 16, 2014 No Comments

Driving through a war zone to Aleppo

Driving to Aleppo, the Springsteen song My City of Ruins began to play in my head. But Aleppo is nowhere near rising up – and it may yet have further to fall.

October 8, 2014 4 Comments

Would I have been expelled if I’d joined the Guides in 2014?

If they had been the youthful feminist activists they are today, I might have been more enthusiastic and less of a pain-in-the-arse during my brief stint as a Girl Guide, writes Lindsey Hilsum.

October 6, 2014 No Comments

Yazidi MP wins award for passionate defence of her people

The Iraqi Yazidi MP Vian Dakhil, who wept as she exhorted the world to save her people from Islamic State militants, wins a prestigious award for her courage.

September 30, 2014 2 Comments

Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of Censors

If you want to buy a yellow ribbon to tie round your ponytail, don’t bother to look online in China. The phrase “yellow ribbon” has been censored. And it’s not hard to work

September 29, 2014 4 Comments

Hong Kong: how much unrest will China tolerate?

The demonstrators are a new generation, but they all know what happened in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989, when the Communist Party crushed a student protest in Beijing with tanks.

September 22, 2014 8 Comments

Murdered in the fight to build a democratic Libya

18-year-old Libyan civil society activist Tawfik Bensaud was killed on Friday, probably by Islamists. His friends are now struggling to keep faith in the democratic state they dream of.

September 16, 2014 11 Comments

The inward-looking rump UK that will follow a yes vote

If Scotland gains independence, the UK’s influence and power will be increasingly consigned to history.

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