Syrian civilization in the balance of war

Professor George Touma från Universitetet i Aleppo beskriver här i en personlig och bildbaserad berättelse om hur livet fungerar i en krigszon och hur kriget inte bara har sociala effekter utan också har stora negativa effekter på kulturmiljön. I Aleppo som anses vara en av världens äldsta städer är det som sker just nu inte bara en akut situation och humanistisk katastrof, det är också ett hot mot en global identitet. Touma önskar stöd till Syrien både ekonomiskt och juridiskt för att kunna bevara stadens historia och identitet.

George Touma, PhD and Professor in Architecture, 1993-2015 at the The School of Architecture, Aleppo University, 2015- Visiting Researcher at The School of Architecture, KTH-Stockholm -Sweden.

Life in a war zone

Aleppo is one of the oldest continuous inhabited cities in the world and was populated already around 5000 BC. It is the largest city in Syria with approximately two million inhabitants in 2004. It is also still the industrial and economic capital of the country. 
In the beginning of the war of 2011, only the countryside was a dangerous area, battles started there. The inner city was targeted by random artillery from the countryside, nevertheless people kept going to the daily life although the danger was, and still is, increasing. Schools, universities hospitals and public services were in function all along the war and still are. Despite the shortness of basic infrastructure and life necessities like electricity, water or fuel the education is still on its feet in the Faculty of Architecture and the creativity never stopped in the Faculty of Fine Art. However, the more time fighting the bigger the loss of our humanity will be. 

In war there are no winners, only the risk for humanity to loose yet another part of their civilization.

The loss of an international legacy

Apart from the social effects of how the war has affected the city there have also been severe negative impacts on cultural heritage. Since the armed conflict began in 2011, several cities in Syria have been destroyed either partly or completely, but the story of Aleppo is a completely different story than that from many of the other cities. Not that Aleppo is a city raised over the others, but destroying the cultural heritage of Aleppo is also destroying the Syrian legacy, and in some senses even part of an international legacy. The devastation of Aleppo is literally losing one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. By this also means losing a unique urban structure that combines the magic of the ancient ages with the integration of modern architecture.
In the old city where almost all of the historic treasures stand like buildings, streets, squares, temples and markets, we lost the old market and the Ommaya mosque which are considered as historical sites. Also the old houses were destroyed, where over 200 thousand people were living. 


At some point these and other people will need to go back to their homes in Aleppo and to other places in Syria after the war. So it is necessary even in the middle of an acute situation to start to provide legal support and economic incentives to make sure we give the best social conditions possible and to keep the historical identity of the city in a long-term perspective. Because even though Aleppo has survived throughout the ages, the current conflict is said to be the cruelest savage destruction this city has gone through. 
My message to all of you is that we all share Syria, so let us protect it as much as we can. In war there are no winners, only the risk for humanity to loose yet another part of their civilization.

George Touma