Channel 4 News filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab on why she stayed to film siege of Aleppo

Filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab, whose footage of life in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo has won her acclaim, said she did not regret staying behind to film the conflict, despite fearing for her life.

She shot many of her videos while clutching her baby daughter and pregnant with her second child.

She is now living in Turkey after fleeing on the last bus out of Aleppo as regime forces moved in.

Her work includes footage showing a new-born baby being resuscitated after doctors were forced to perform an emergency cesarean on a woman, who had been hit by shrapnel.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Al-Kateab revealed medical staff tried to resuscitate the infant for 12 minutes before it finally took a breath and started wailing.

She said: “All the doctors and nurses were crying. He was dead and he came back to life. I think that this baby is the freedom of Syria.”

Another of her videos showed two young brothers mourning the death of their sibling.

Al-Kateab said of getting the footage: “It was a normal day. I took my camera and went to film what is happening in the A&E room.

“From the first time when you see the brother you see that he is dead, but you couldn’t say that for the little brother. [My husband] and the other doctors tried to help him but there was no hope.”

She added: “In that moment I was just looking at the camera, like I’m hiding behind the camera. I’m not there. I’m just focusing on telling all the world what’s happening in Aleppo.

“And the worst moment [was] when his mother came. I feel that maybe this mother would be me and maybe I lost someone like her. When I finished filming I sat down on the stairs and began to cry.”

Al-Kateab also said a boy she filmed tending to flowers in the city with his father, who was later killed in a bomb blast, was now safely with his family in the Syrian countryside.

The filmmaker, whose identity is being protected for her own safety – her name is a pseudonym – told Channel 4 News that she had dreamed of being a reporter from a young age.

She first started filming events in Aleppo during the Arab Spring, capturing footage on her camera phone while still a young student.

Asked if she thought she had now become a journalist, Al-Kateab said: “I’m just a Syrian woman trying to do something for her country. I will continue filming and try to help them and show the world what’s still happening in Syria.”

She revealed her last days trapped in Aleppo, as regime forces approached, were the “most bad days” and said the hospital where she was staying with her doctor husband was targeted by bombs.

“It was like a horror,” she said. “I can’t believe that we are now safe and we are ok.”

Asked if she thought she was going to die, she said: “Yes, of course.” But said she did not regret staying, adding: “We were hoping that maybe the world would see what was happening in Aleppo and say ‘stop’ to the regime.”

She said she did not believe Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad had won, despite successfully reclaiming Aleppo.

“He has taken just some rubble and damaged buildings,” she said. “He has won this battle, but it’s not the end.”

Al-Kateab was awarded the prize for Foreign Affairs Journalism at last year’s British Journalism Awards.

Comments

1 thought on “Channel 4 News filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab on why she stayed to film siege of Aleppo”

  1. I really really got so touched by the baby who became alive after he seems to be no sign of heart beat. It was an miracle and yes, just like Waad al-Kateab said, baby is the freedom of Syria. May I know how could I write to Waad al-Kateab? Where is the baby now?

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