A young Syrian girl, Bana Al-Abed, known for tweeting about life in besieged east Aleppo, is safe and alive according to her father yesterday, after fears she was dead following her disappearance online. Bana’s father, Ghassen Al-Abed, confirmed that the reason for Bana’s recent online absence was the family fleeing further into east Aleppo last week after heavy bombardment in their neighbourhood destroyed their home.
“The army got really close to our neighbourhood. We fled to another part of east Aleppo and the family is doing well,” Ghassan informed AFP.
Bana sent her first Tweet yesterday confirming her safety after being inactive on the social media site for 24 hours initiating a worldwide hashtag #WhereisBana.
Hello my friends, how are you? I am fine. I am getting better without medicine with too much bombing. I miss you. – Bana #Aleppo
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 6, 2016
Bana has mustered a large following since beginning her Twitter journey in September this year with help from her mother to provide a glimpse into war-torn Syria for a child.
“I am sick now, I have no medicine, no home, no clean water. This will make me die even before a bomb kill me. – Bana #Aleppo,” Bana wrote in a Tweet before her disappearance.
In one of her final tweet, her mother said “bye” to her followers.
We are sure the army is capturing us now. We will see each other another day dear world. Bye.- Fatemah #Aleppo
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 4, 2016
Many of her tweets are pleas to save her and her family as bombs descend on her neighbourhoods leaving many readers hopelessly unavailable to do much.
While Bana has garnered much support online, pro-Assad sympathisers have dismissed her account as a propagandist tool against President Bashar Al-Assad.Al-Assad himself described the footage posted on Bana’s account as being “promoted by the terrorists or their supporters”, during an interview last month with Danish broadcaster TV2.
However her account is clearly an attempt to hold onto normality in a devastating situation as she posts images of herself reading Harry Potter books with her brothers or sends a message of love to her favourite football team Manchester United. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has even retweeted Bana’s footage.
Syria’s army and allies pushed into opposition-held parts of Aleppo yesterday in a bid to drive out the opposition out of their last urban stronghold.
Tens of thousands of civilians are still trapped in opposition-held districts of the city with the United Nation’s describing it as “a very disastrous situation in eastern Aleppo”, with their staff still restricted to government-controlled areas.