The Aleppo soap road

This article has been published in 7 à Poitiers the 02/08/2017

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Under bombardments for months the syrian economic capital city tries to heal. The founder of « Les Saveurs d’Alep » in Poitiers tells us how he managed to reconnect with his soaps suppliers. A cargo just arrived after a long journey.

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On december 21st, a strange Santa Claus knocked on Amir’s door. A carrier left fourteen palettes in front of his shop « Les Saveurs d’Alep » in Poitiers. Inside these palettes : hummus, jams, bulgur, olive oil and many other syro-libanese specialities. Other cardboards cartons were there full of cosmetics product and well-known Aleppo soaps. The shopkeeper couldn’t supply his shop anymore since three years because of the war in Syria. « My supplier’s phone number didn’t answer anymore. I learnt after that his soap factory had been destroyed by an explosion », Amir said.
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Contacts were stopped until Amir watched a TV report on France 2. Mazen, heir of a long soap makers line was showing to french journalists his artisanal production that he made in his house basement after the bombing. Amir recognized him immediatly. Thanks to the exact spelling of his name he finds him on Facebook.
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Daech’s pitfalls.
Permanent tension and bombing have changed Mazen’s lifestyle but he keeping making high qualities soaps. Amir makes him an order.
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The soap road is full of pitfalls. The cargo goes to Lattaquié port in the south. « When we can’t go somewhere because of Daech, another way appears somewhere else. It’s a cat and mouse game. ». Depart from Syria on November, 12th. The cargo goes to Alexandria in Egypt than cross the mediterranean sea and arrives to Fos-sur-Mer on December 6th. Troubles have just started for Amir : « Sometimes customs control the documents, sometimes they open the packages. I had both ! ». Merchandise coming from Syria are more strictly controlled than the others. In the end the journey has last fourty-nine days...

Syria is embargoed by the western country. Diplomacy has stopped and the situation in Middle East is really under tension. Will syrian citizen’s lives normalize soon ? Amir hopes so. His sister still lives there.

Find out our interview with Mazen Zanabili.

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