War started in Syria in March 2011. In 2013 I started dividing my time between Damascus and Beirut in Lebanon, where I was able to guarantee the smooth transit of Syrian shipments via Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport. It’s only about a two-hour drive between the cities along a very safe road.
On a ‘normal-as-possible’ working day in Syria, I travel between our country office in Damascus city and our 12 sites across Damascus state. I can’t visit them all in one day because the streets are now blocked with massive traffic jams due to the large number of security checkpoints. A trip across town that used to take 15 minutes now takes one and a half hours. Occasionally, I visit the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartus.
Late in 2012 we relocated our operations from our new Syria Country Office near the airport to the city because snipers were shooting at vehicles, but now the roads are safe again. In this facility we have now 30,000 square meters of warehousing. Even though we have a generator for electricity there is still no internet connection, so we can’t move back yet.
The situation in Damascus is not particularly dangerous, but there are occasional unpredictable explosions. Last spring in Tartus and Latakia – two cities on the Mediterranean coast, where we operate warehouses for international humanitarian aid organizations – 150 people were killed in five bombings in just one day.