When Sarajevo emerged from four years of siege and shelling, the city was almost derelict. Much of its housing had been destroyed and its historic buildings damaged. Only about a fifth of its water system and power supply still worked. Tens of thousands of people had fled and its centuries old history as a cosmopolitan multi-ethnic, multi-faith city was over.
“We liberated the rural parts of Aleppo province. We waited and waited for Aleppo City to rise, and it didn’t. We couldn’t rely on them to do it for themselves so we had to bring the revolution to them.” Those were the words in July 2012 of Abu Hashish, a commander from a village in the country near Aleppo. The conflict had indeed spread from the Idleb countryside to northern Aleppo in the early part of the year but only reached the city in July.
The Aleppo Project is developing a plan of action for rubble clearance for when peace returns to the city and reconstruction can begin. Part of this is the development of a system to map destruction and assess the volume of material that will likely have to be removed.
We need your help:
What has been used to make apartment buildings in Aleppo in the past 50 years? To what extent has asbestos or any other mineral fibre been used in construction? What hazards might exist in the rubble?
How much rubble is there in Aleppo? What sort of volumes of building materials were used in the construction of new buildings? How much concrete was used in informal settlement construction?
How effective was the city government and the sanitation department in removing garbage and construction waste before the war?
Where was garbage dumped and what sort of life-span did landfills used by the city have?
Under current Syrian law, who is responsible for rubble clearance from privately owned property?
Where do you think rubble should be taken? What would be the most suitable locations for sorting and recycling? What would be the best locations for landfill?
Where did Aleppo get building materials such as sand and rubble from before the conflict? How expensive were these materials? Will it be more economical to recycle concrete rubble rather than using newly mined building materials?
Adawia Shaar, who lives in Aleppo, shares on her Facebook page a picture from the birthday dinner of her friend, whose brothers were only able to join her through Skype. “She does not know when she will see them again, so she created this scene to live the dream that they are still by her side”
This is the new Aleppo family, with members scattered all around the world.
It has become a truism of conflict resolution to say that peace cannot be forced on a country and negotiations only work when the time is ripe. Is that moment approaching in Syria? A poll of Syrians by The Day After, an Istanbul-based research organisation, shows that a small majority now favour a negotiated settlement with the government. Of the 2,600 people polled inside and outside Syria, 54.7 per cent want to see talks that lead to a settlement. That is still low compared with some countries in conflict. A recent poll in Afghanistan showed that 71 per cent of respondents want a negotiated settlement with the Taliban even though only 4 per cent said they would prefer the return of the Taliban to power rather than the current government.