Paris turned off the famed lights of the iconic Eiffel Tower on December 14 as a gesture of solidarity with the people of the Syrian city of Aleppo, hit by a humanitarian crisis as residents flee the heavy fighting. The landmark turned out its lights at 8 pm local time and it was also closed to visitors on December 14, due to a strike by staff.
Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo’s office said in a statement, “This symbolic measure at a building known worldwide will aim to once again alert the international community to the need for urgent action.” Hidalgo said that she decided to make the “gesture of support for the besieged inhabitants of Aleppo.”
A medical humanitarian convoy, loaded with equipment and chartered by the Union of Medical Relief Organisations (UOSSM), will depart Paris and head to Aleppo. The UOSSM was created at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, by Franco-Syrian doctors in 2012, to help the populations affected by the conflict.
Hidalgo after meeting Aleppo Mayor, Brita Hagi Hasan in Paris recently has helped to raise awareness of those in the affected part of the besieged city.
She also sent a letter to the Pope asking him to intervene in favour of a peaceful solution in Syria, hung a banner on the façade of the Paris Town Hall to show Parisians’ solidarity and wrote a letter to the World Congress of Mayors (UCLG) to enlist their support.
Aleppo ceasefire agreement collapses in less than a day
As Turkey and activists on the ground accused the regime and other forces of heavy shelling and bombardment, the ceasefire brokered by Turkey with Russia for eastern Aleppo collapsed less than a day after it was implemented.
Deaths were reported on both sides, while some 50,000 civilians were believed to remain inside the small pocket of eastern Aleppo still under rebel control. The ceasefire was aimed at evacuating both rebels and civilians, but the promised evacuations had not taken place. Besieged rebels and civilians are living without food, running water and electricity in the ruins of the city.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was appalled by the ceasefire agreement’s swift collapse. “While the reasons for the breakdown of the ceasefire are disputed, the resumption of extremely heavy bombardment by the Syrian government forces and their allies in an area packed with civilians is almost certainly a violation of international law and most likely constitutes war crimes,” he said.
Desperate messages by residents begging to be saved are being sent out to the rest of the world.
“For those who still have some humanity left, please save us,” messaged Mohammed Abu Jaafar, the head of east Aleppo’s forensic authority. “The international community has mocked us, Russia has mocked us, Iran has mocked us.”
The Eiffel Tower has been used before to express solidarity with other countries. In June, it was lit in rainbow colours after the massacre in Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It was also lit in the colours of the Belgian flag after the Brussels attacks in March, and it went dark in January to honour the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.