AFP Cilvegozu, Turkey
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoplu says Bana will be brought to Turkey with her family
Seven-year-old Bana al-Abed, whose Twitter account has offered a tragic account of the war in Syria, was evacuated from the divided Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday and was set to be brought into Turkey, Turkish officials and aid workers said.
The young Syrian girl is one of thousands of people evacuated from once rebel-held areas of Aleppo in the last days under a deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.
“This morning @AlabedBana was also rescued from #Aleppo with her family. We warmly welcomed them,” Turkish NGO the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) wrote on its Twitter account, sharing an IHH aid worker’s selfie picture with the girl.
An IHH spokesperson later confirmed she had arrived at a camp for displaced persons in Syria’s Idlib province neighbouring Aleppo.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoplu – who had already interacted with Bana on Twitter – said later that she would be brought to Turkey with her family, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
For her 330,000 followers, Bana is a symbol of the tragedy unfolding in Syria, although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has slammed her and her mother’s nearly daily tweets as propaganda.
Anadolu news agency later posted a short interview with Bana after her arrival, dressed in a warm coat and hat against the winter chill.
“In Aleppo the shelling was all over the place. We got out from the ruins because our house was bombed,” she said shyly in Arabic, before turning towards her mother.
Bana’s account has posted pictures of the destruction in Aleppo including her rubble-littered street, while people have tweeted messages of support and concern, notably fearing for her life when tweets became less frequent.
At least 15,000 children are among the more than 300,000 people who have been killed in Syria’s over five-year war.
Tarakji Ahmad, president of Syrian American Medical Society, also posted a picture of Bana, with an aid worker.
“@AlabedBana and many children arrived to #Aleppo [email protected][email protected] and partners are co-ordinating the response plan there.”
In her last tweet with her mother Fatemah before the evacuation, Bana made an appeal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cavusoglu to put a fragile ceasefire back on track after frequent delays.
“Dear @MevlutCavusoglu & @RT_Erdogan please please please make this ceasefire work & get us out now. We are so tired.- Fatemah #Aleppo.”
Responding in a tweet yesterday, Cavusoglu wrote: “Difficulties on the ground won’t deter us sister. Rest assured that we are doing all to get you and thousands of others to safety.”
Cavusoglu said yesterday that a total of 20,000 people had been evacuated so far and efforts were continuing.
Turkey is hosting some 2.7mn refugees from the Syria conflict but has made clear it now prefers to look after those recently displaced, who are not injured, on the Syrian side of the border.
However it makes exceptions for special cases and the wounded.
The Islamic charity IHH is playing a large role in the transport of aid for Aleppo as well as the transfer of evacuated Syrians into camps in Idlib province near the Turkish border.
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