Weekly media digest

The agony of leaving (and staying) in Lebanon, a Damascus hotel's vibrant cultural scene, and overwhelmed ICUs in Syria's hospitals

SyriaUntold brings you the latest edition of our digest. We want to share with you the news, features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we're reading this week.

02 April 2021

Illustration by Rami Khoury

Exodus (Guernica)

“I knew I was fortunate to have these opportunities. But I still yearned for my motherland and my mother. I regularly read her journals, which she had gifted to me when I departed Lebanon, telling myself that she had had it far worse than I ever would. But I, too, daydreamed about Sunday lunches at my grandparents’ orchard. I longed for wafts of jasmine and honeysuckle, and glimpses of the old city gates, veranda shutters, and mosaic tiles. Trapped between languages, I reminded myself to think in Arabic. Just one more year, I told myself.

But one year became five, then ten, then fifteen.” Read more

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Syria’s house of poetry (Newlines Magazine)

“Roula’s desk sat right at the entrance of the hotel. Passersby were always able to catch sight of her shock of red hair and her stylish, avant-garde wardrobe. Roula’s posture and appearance made people pay attention to what she said. Visitors would sit by her desk, sipping coffee and discussing the latest news, not only on politics but also on art and culture. Intellectuals such as Mamdouh Adwan, the late Syrian poet and playwright; Ahmad Barkawi, the Palestinian philosopher; Omar Amiralay, the late Syrian documentarian; and Samar Yazbek, the acclaimed novelist, were fixtures at Roula’s table.” Read more

Syrian journalists reflect on covering a decade-long war (Marie Claire)

“As active conflict decreases, Russia and Syria have called for refugees to return, and the Syrian government has passed laws to facilitate reconstruction, but watchers say human rights are still being violated. We reached out to five women who have been telling the stories they’ve been witnessing around them and documenting the country’s difficult way forward.” Read more

UN raises $6.4 billion for Syrians, falls short of $10 billion aid goal (France24)

“The European Union, the U.S. and dozens of other nations pledged $6.4 billion in aid Tuesday to help tackle war-ravaged Syria's deepening humanitarian and economic crises and assist neighboring countries hosting refugees, coming up short of the $10 billion the U.N. had hoped for.” Read more

A Day in the life of Abed Salama (The New York Review of Books)

“Atef reported that he was stuck in horrible traffic. It was a wet, gray, and extremely windy February morning in 2012. He said there appeared to be a collision ahead of him, on the road between the Qalandia and Jaba checkpoints. A few minutes after hearing of Atef’s delay, Abed received a call from his nephew: ‘Did Milad go to the picnic today? There was an accident with a school bus near Jaba.’” Read more

Covid overwhelms ICUs in Syrian capital (AFP)

“In mid-March, a health ministry official said intensive care units (ICUs) dedicated to coronavirus patients had reached full capacity across the capital for the first time since coronavirus swept into Syria.

The latest virus surge which many are referring to as a ‘third wave’ has overwhelmed hospitals to the extent that Covid-19 patients are being transferred outside the city for treatment, according to the health ministry.” Read more

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad