Why some residents of the besieged Syrian city of Homs are staying put

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: If Tunisia is the flower of the Arab Spring and Egypt is the flower that's wilting on the vine, then Syria is the garden in peril of dying altogether. For evidence, look no further than Homs. Syria's third largest city is in ruins after months of fighting. It's people are starving. Homs has even become a flashpoint at the troubled Syrian peace talks in Switzerland. The two sides can't agree how to get humanitarian aid to residents. Earlier, we managed to connect with one anti-government activist in Homs via Skype. He goes by the name Abo Rami. He says residents of Homs are desperate.

Abo Rami: There is no life after 6 PM in the day. You will not be able to see any light on the streets. There is no sound for walking on the ground. There is no sound for the daily living. We have reached a day that we call "The City of Ghosts."

Werman: What do you see outside your window right now in Homs?

Rami: The outside is full of damaged houses, damaged buildings. Nothing works at all. All markets are closed. Most of them are damaged. The other have nothing in it. There is no normal life.

Werman: Do you see any traffic in the streets?

Rami: There is no traffic. No cars are working any more. We are talking about the besieged districts of Homs - there's only one or two cars. This is what is left here.

Werman: What about basic things like water and electricity?

Rami: Electricity is not available. We are working on generators that work on fuel. This is very difficult for us to obtain nowadays.

Werman: I understand you're an opposition activist, but it barely sounds like Homs is a city. Why do you stay?

Rami: I didn't participate in this uprising to give up in the end. We went through this uprising for our dignity, our right to speak. Sure, it's a critical stage now, but I will not leave. I will not leave my principles at this time. But for us, we are men. We are young.

But there are elderly people here. There are women. They're pregnant. There are infant children - milk is needed, as well as specific medicines. They are in the critical stages. There's a need for a humanitarian aid and a safe path for the families, the children, the women who want out of their besieged homes to go to safe places. There needs to be a guarantee that these people won't be harmed or arrested after they get out of these besieged areas.

Werman: It's been going on for awhile though, trying to guarantee safe passage for the Syrians to get out of places like Homs. Do you have any faith in the talks in Genova?

Rami: Frankly, I'm not very optimistic about what's going on in the talks in Genova, because we're used to this kind of regime full of lies. We want UN vehicles and others to be with us during the evacuation operations here inside Homs.

Werman: Yes - UN vehicles, Red Crescent vehicles - they could all be useful in getting people out of Homs. I'm wondering, when you look around your city, it must feel like the world has forgotten you.

Rami: Yes. If you ask a single child, he will say the whole world is only watching and they didn't help with our childhood, because the biggest countries - they have the ability, the power to end this conflict but they don't care about the bloodshed on the ground. It's a matter of life and despite the world abandoning us, we will continue our uprising until the end and we will sacrifice each soul until we succeed at the end.

Werman: Abo Rami, an opposition activist and a member of the United Media Office of Homs, speaking with us from Homs in Syria. Thank you very much.

Rami: Thank you.