Aleppo, We Are Not Well At All (Հալէպ․ Բնա՛ւ լաւ չենք)

Posted on January. 18. 2020

Editor’s note: Aleppo Armenians and non-Armenians Need Urgent Help. WE MUST HELP THEM NOW !!!USA Armenian Life Magazine

By Manuel Keshishian

Levon Sharoyan wrote on his FB page: ”Mr. Manuel Keshishian poignantly tilted his article ’We Are Not Well’ (Լաւ չենք»). Do not be deceived by to the colorful official pictures that are posted from Aleppo nor pay attention to the exuberant descriptions accompanying such pictures. Read the article, ponder about it, challenge and confront the misguided ’optimists.’ The attached is my abridged translation of Mr. Manuel Keshishian’s most recent article that appeared in CivilNet.”

The New Year and Christmas days are over.Everyone spared no effort to at least make the children happy. All our institutions: churches, schools, associations resorted to every means to provide joyful days to the children and they succeeded. Our children thus attended many festivities. Opportunities were made available for the grown-ups also in way dance, banquet but they were not affordable to all and consequently they were mostly empty or were held in half full halls.If the expatriated Aleppo Armenians recall those festive holidays of the past, we in Aleppo, on the other hand, do not want to recall those days. Remembering them will make our present situation, bordering to tragic, even more acutely felt by us.Our reality is grim, very grim. The leaders of our three denominations. However, we watched the receptions organized by the leaders of our denominations congratulating the festive occasion in bright halls and however, we tend to visualize the future of Aleppo as another Dubai, it does not matter. Our daily life is grim, very grim.

The  daily devaluation of the Syrian pound and the inability of the central bank to stop the precipitous fall, has brought the people to the brink of despair. Everything gets expensive by the day. Consuming beef and lamp are a dream to most. Poultry is on the same track. Vegetables, fruits are becoming way too expensive. The availability of bread at a government subsidized rate is not enough to meet the demand. Gas in Syria is sold in 24 Kg quantities in canisters that are sold from trucks. Every family is allowed to have one canister for every 23 days.  A canister gas can meet a household’s  demand with diligent use during the summer months. But it is not sufficient for winter months as people use it to warm water. The government allocates  only 100 liters of fuel per family for year-long heating.   The government cannot also provide canisters of gas in sufficient quantities. They are made available sporadically necessitating unending lines. Sometimes the wait on such a line lasts for hours. At times people reserve a place late at night and wait but it happens that at times they return home empty handed. People try to get it in different ways. The official rate is 2700 Liras (2 dollars and 70 cents), but the price doubles, quadruples and reaches 10 dollars when our salaries hovers less than 50 dollars per month. The daily conversation is the fall of the Syrian Lira and the escalation of the prices because of its devaluation.Is the government aware of the situation? It is, but it appears that it cannot do anything. The ongoing civil war for the past 8 years seems to have emptied the coffers of the government. Thus what happens if you cannot procure nourishment for your children? Who cares? Apply to this or that civic or religious charity organization.  If your salary is exhausted by the end of the first week of the month, you may supplement your income by continuing selling some of the golden jewelry you might still have. If this continues this way, are we to die of hunger? Surely so, but who cares?Our economic viability is really at risk. Not the government salary raises, nor the handouts of the  charitable organizations will be able to address it.The young have no means of forming and sustaining a family. The ones who are engaged remain so and those who are single continue to remain single. Who can assist the young to form their own families?The Patriarch of the Assyrian Orthodox Church issued a proclamation to marry the young without any change. They will also provide a hall for bridal festivity for free. A 1000 thousand dollars (one million Syrian pounds) will be given to each newly married couple, The Patriarchate will pay the newly married couple’s yearlong rent including a yearlong expenses of their newly born child, along with the child’s elementary education.Is that not exemplary? Cannot our religious denominations do the same? Do they have the financial means to do so? We are not well, not well at all.We are not well but our community leaders all too often conceal our reality from those in the higher up and present not our reality to them and to the government officials but what Aleppo is supposed to be one day, another Dubai.Is that not what the proverbial ostriches do? Hide their heads in the sand a and thus shield themselves from the reality.

Last month, those who described the reality were accused by many for being pessimists. And now, it’s the same situation but worst.  Since then the prices escalated by leaps and bounds, and we remain chagrined that the 100 liter of petrol the government provided to us for the year might not be enough to continue on bathing our newly born child.   There is only one avenue left fort those of us who are still in Aleppo to cope with these daily realities and that is by coming to term that we are less of a human being.Let me conclude.We Armenians, if we want to have this community endure, our leaders are obliged to do all they can to enlighten our daily burden. Recently the heads of our three religious denominations met. I do not know what decisions they took.  But I know this, it’s high time decisions are taken and implemented to ameliorate our worsening situation with help from the Republic of Armenia.Your thoughts?E

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