The only thing that came to my mind when I saw Abu Alaa's trees as he was cutting the olive trees of his home garden in al-Iza'aa [Radio] neighborhood of Aleppo; was the scene of the Bosnian man crying, while under Serbian siege to his capital Sarajevo in 1994. The man was forced to pry his daughter's "puppet" out of her tiny hands, and throw it to the "heater," attempting to make the fire last a little longer.
The Bosnian man managed to buy himself and his family some additional warm time, after being subjected to a 1,400-day siege that led to the death of more than two thousand children.
Abu Alaa has been planting trees in his garden for nearly 10 years. He cared for them and was able to bear the difficult circumstances through which Aleppo passed during the past three years. But the family's "new born" is not likely to withstand the bitter cold of northern Syria.
Because of the new circumstances, the man was forced to cut the trees that are "attached to his arteries" as he puts it. He explains to Rozana: "If I am going to subscribe for a ration of heating fuel in one of the state centers, the price of a liter of diesel may reach 80 Syrian Pounds. It is not available in all the areas controlled by regime forces, such as in the Iza'aa neighborhood. This means being forced to buy it on the black market, at a price ranging between 250 and 400 Syrian pounds per liter."
Abu Alaa also quipped that he canceled the idea of subscribing to fuel from government posts, because "above and beyond the price hike, I will have to wait for a long time. The winter may even end, and my turn would not have arrived. This is what happened to many citizens in previous years; nepotism is at work in this area."
He continues by saying that he did think of alternative solutions before resorting to cut his trees for heating. He thought of gas, but a gas canister would set him back 4,000 Syrian Pounds with the onset of winter; he will only get his hands on one after a lengthy and agonizing process, anyway.
The man then asks: "How many gas canisters will be consumed in the winter at this price, which already is too high for my monthly income and expenses I am obliged to pay every month? These include, but are not limited to, electricity, water and telephone bills, school supplies for children, food, powdered milk, and medicine."
Abu Alaa confirms to Rozana that he had no other options or solutions to secure heating, especially with the increased hours of rationing which could reach as much as 20 hours a day, as well as the high prices of electric heaters.
The List of 'Freezing to Death!'
With the announcement by the "Union of Relief and Development Organizations in Lebanon" last month of the first death of a Syrian child of cold in the Arsal camps this winter; the list of victims of death as a result of cold has been inaugurated.
It is noteworthy that, for the last three months, domestic gas cylinders have all but disappeared from Aleppo and its countryside. They can be made available, but only at a price exceeding 3,000 Syrian Pounds while a liter of diesel sells on the black market at 250 Syrian Pounds.
Last month, the regime's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection raised the price of a liter of diesel from 60 to 80 Syrian Pounds, and the price of a liter of gasoline from 120 to 140 Syrian Pounds; without even the slightest care to Abu Alaa or the other 10 million Syrians in need of emergency aid, according to United Nations reports.
Sadly, the sons of Aleppo city, which was electrified under the Ottomans in 1911, die today from a severe shortage of energy sources.