8 April 2017 at 11:38 #4270JulianeMember
Hi. I dont have much time to write but this seems like the place to do so and it somehow feels important. My name is Juliane Larcher, I am a french doctor for MSF, specialised in infectious diseases. I am currently stationed in Syria and trying by all means to find a way back to France, to my family and my daughter, Alix. If anyone has any news of the situation in France please let me know how things are going there, especially in Paris where my family lives.
Here, the situation has gone from bad to worse, but at least now it is clear why people are killing each other for : water. And we have water, which puts huge targets on our backs… There are seven of us and four 30L-barrels of water stuck inside the MSF dispensary in Aleppo. Maite Lopez is a spanish nurse I have been working with during the 5 months I have spend here, I know I can trust her. There is also Jérémy Lanvin, a french medical student that reminds me of my ex-husband, even though he is a lot younger they both share the same irresponsable, childish behaviour. The rest of the people here I dont really know. Except for Alexandre Monet; I have read about him in the newspapers, the rising star of french foreign politics… I am not sure what to think about him yet, at first glance he seems to be a condescendent jerk like most politicians. Whoever the rest of them are, one thing is certain, we must stick together to survive and we need to get out of the city fast. We are waiting for the opportune moment to take the jeep and make a run for it. With any luck we will cross the border into Turkey soon and I will be able to write from there… I pray we make it all alive.
8 April 2017 at 13:21 #4279SamMember
Samuel from London here. I don’t know exactly what is happening in France but last I heard it sounded like things wasn’t as bad as what you are experiencing. The government like in England are keeping things under control and water rationing are working. I do hope your daughter are okay, how old is she and is someone taking care of her?
Your situation sounds horrible and I really hope you will make it back soon to Paris and be reunited with your family.
8 April 2017 at 19:51 #4325NickMember
Hi Juliane, this is Nick from Athens.
I hope you and your family are doing well. Alexander Monet is here on the forum as well. My suggestion is that you get in touch with him and try to work out any differences. We must stand together in this.
If you need any help to get back to France or or any information about your loved ones, contact me. I may be able to help. Are you in contact with your daughter Alix?
Meanwhile, take care
8 April 2017 at 20:41 #4333
18 April 2017 at 11:09 #4877JulianeMember
We crossed the Turkish border about a week ago with surprising ease. The fences were lifted, the customs offices deserted, and no one challenged us as we passed through. In fact, we did not encounter any other travelers since the last buildings in the outskirts of Aleppo disappeared in our rear-view mirror. Everyone seemed to be clinging to the city as if it were a lifeboat, not knowing it was no use. International support had stopped coming. The “safe” water that was now being bartered in the streets was simply bottled tap water that was selling for the price of gold. It disgusts me how there are always to take advantage of critical situations to make profit. Leaving felt like being torn appart. Part of me inside was screaming out that I should help these people, they deserved to live as much as I did. The selfish part just wanted to run away as far as possible, save herself and go home to the ones I love, and the rational part knew that even if I stayed there was nothing I could do, I would only be adding a name on the ever-growing list of deaths.
The jeep ran out of gas as we were approaching Gaziantep and we had to separate. Some stayed with the car while @Alex, Jeremy and I set out on foot towards the buildings on the horizon with 2L of water each for bartering. Before we left, Alex took me aside and handed me a riffle and ammunitions that he pulled out of black bag he had been carrying all this time, then he secured a second one on his back. My first instinct was to question where the weapons came from but I was so grateful to have one that I decided its origin was of little relevance right now. There would be time for questions later, when we are all safe… maybe. I am no stranger to guns, before joining the MSF I used to be a field doctor in the french army, and the weight of it in my hand was strangely reassuring.
Gaziantep was as deserted as the roads we’d been travelling and the border outpost. It didn’t take us long to find an abandoned gas station whose tank had not completely been emptied and were about to head back towards the rest of the group when the sky darkened and growled. Without thinking it twice, i dived into the closest house and shouted at the other 2 to do the same. Just in time. We had to wait out the rain, which lasted 2 more days, inside the small household. The was no food and the only safe water was that which we had brought with us. The rest of the group was having a much harder time though, the 4 of them stuck inside the jeep… When the rain subsided at last, we hurried back to them, only to find that they were only 3 left… Maite told me that one of Alex’s crew membres had gone mad from staying stuck inside the car with the hammering sound of the water on the roof and they had watched him run out into the rain never to see him again. We could not spare a moment to go looking for a dead or dying man. Alex sat behind the wheel with a stern look on his face, beckoned everyone to take a seat and started the car.
The rest of the journey to Istanbul unraveled without further incidents. No one spoke of what had happened. No one spoke at all. I tried to focus on the road but eventually my eyelids drooped and sleep prevailed. When Alex nudged me awake it was dark, we switched seats and I drove on into the night, the heavy silence weighing down on my nerves.</p>
<p class=”p1″>If leaving Aleppo had been a challenge, entering Istanbul revealed itself to be even harder. The irony of it makes me smile in spite of everything we have been through. Istanbul is spread on either side of the Bosphorus Strait. The eastern city is now crowded with refugees from all over the country come to find clear water. On the other side, the french embassy and its promise to see us safely home, lie out of reach. The bridges are either blown up or barricaded and guarded by the army, boats patrol the waters to stop anyone from crossing. Alex thinks he can use his contacts to get us through the blockage but it has been 3 days already since he last heard from them. I hope he knows what he is doing, we are down two barrels of water already, despite the careful rationing and the spirits are running low as well.
Thank you for your support and your prayers. I wish you all well!
- This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Juliane.
18 April 2017 at 15:28 #4893SamMember
Glad to hear that you have made it this fare. Sounds like things are really rough. I hope you will make it over Barbarous and your embassy will be able to help you back even if I don’t know what you will return to. Just be careful sounds like a really unstable situation you are in right now.
18 April 2017 at 16:08 #4894LisaMember
@Juliane: I am also glad you managed to get out of Syria and made it to where you are now. And it’s really hard decisions you had to take, but I also think it wouldn’t have helped if you stayed.
Concerning the problem that you are stuck on the eastern side of Istanbul and cannot cross the Bosporus. Might there be a possibility to get the the other side by boat – not by trying to cross the Bosporus (which seems highly controlled) but by taking a longer way through the peripheral regions of the Marmara Sea or the Black Sea?
In any case I hope the best for you and wish you good luck.
18 April 2017 at 21:34 #4913GrangerSamuelMember
Salut Juliane, i’m french as well, writing this in english for the sake of everyone else. I’ve been stranded in Italy for a long while and i finally got some partial news from France yesterday, from my cousin who is in the chasseurs alpins, unfortunately the general population is running out of water, it’s not as critical as in Sweden though, my cousin is being redeployed to Lyon as i write this. I’m sad i don’t know any more, the internet has been quite sketchy over here.
C’est incroyable que vous ayez réussi à faire tout le chemin après que le gouvernement vous ait lâché, j’espère que vous allez bientôt pouvoir rejoindre l’ambassade, peut être que vous arriverez à avoir des nouvelles concrètes sur la situation en France.
Bon courage et Bonne chance.
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