Tuesday night, PBS Frontline aired a 54-minute film by Marcel Mettelsiefen. “Children on Syria”. The film starts in 2013, as a family headed by a lean, handsome 40-ish Abu Ali faces civil war in Aleppo. The families in the area seem to be “white” and even European-looking and appear to practice moderate forms of Islam. But Abu has joined the revolution against Assad, and he says he now fears he has sacrificed his children’s future to fight against Assad when he previously had thought he was protecting his kids. There is a scene where Abu fires at troops from his home.
Fast forward a year later, and Abu has been kidnapped by ISIS, and Aleppo has been sacked into destruction. Huge sheets hide the streets to protect them from snipers. The younger kids don’t understand what is going on, and one of the girls plays a fantasy “game” about putting prisoners in cages and burning them. Mother has somehow arranged bus passage to Turkey, eventually to Istanbul and some distant relatives. The family applies for asylum in Germany and is eventually settled in Goslar.
In Germany, the family gets about $2000 a month along with health care, and public school for the kids. In six months, the mood changes, and the family hears complaints that “you’re taking our money”. The refugees seem to be supported by taxes and specific charities. But the political climate is growing more difficult.
The mother checks for reports on her missing husband, and even looks at images of emaciated corpses, concluding are careful examination of details that a particular body is not her husband’s.
Wikipedia attribution link for Aleppo picture, by Preacher Lad, under CCSA 3.0
Aleppo, in NW Syria, has over two million people, in a city pretty much sacked by civil war, even before ISIS.