First Published: 2016-12-27

'Civil March for Aleppo' leaves Berlin
Peace activists head down refugee trail in reverse, marching from Berlin outskirts, crossing Czech Republic, Austria, several Balkan countries and Turkey en route to Aleppo.
Middle East Online

Demonstrators wait for the march to begin

ALEPPO - About 400 peace activists were marching Tuesday from the outskirts of Berlin towards the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, heading down the refugee trail in reverse.

Organised by Polish journalist and blogger Anna Alboth, the "Civil March for Aleppo" aims to build political pressure to help civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict.

Carrying white flags and hiking backpacks and wearing outdoor gear against the cold and wet December weather, the marchers had on Monday left from the centre of the German capital.

Alboth told Germany's left-leaning Tageszeitung daily that only a core group of 30 activists planned to walk all the way, adding that she expected they may be blocked at the Turkish border.

"The true purpose of the march is that the civilians in Syria get access to humanitarian aid," she said. "We are marching to build pressure."

The starting point was the disused airfield of the Nazi-era Tempelhof airport, which during the Cold War became the hub for the Berlin airlift and now houses several thousands refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries.

The marchers plan to cover around 20 kilometres (12 miles) a day and walk through the Czech Republic, Austria and several western Balkan countries to Turkey -- and then on to Syria.

It is the route into Europe that was taken last year by more than a million people, many fleeing battlefields in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, with the majority ending up in the top EU economy Germany.

Several thousand people have pledged on Facebook they would join at least a section of the about 3,000-kilometre (1,900-mile) trek bound for Syria's second city, which is now squarely under the control of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Backed by Russia and Iran, Syrian troops last week retook control of eastern Aleppo, which had been held by disparate rebel groups since mid-2012, after a devastating month-long offensive that caused tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Germany has pledged 15 million euros ($15.6 million) in aid to pay for medical staff and trauma counselors for the devastated city, Development Minister Gerd Mueller said.

 

Trump-Saudi ties helps pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

US increases its role in Syria's civil war

Turkish President accused of influencing courts

Red Sea coral reefs take the heat of climate change

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi crown prince

Algeria leader drops Panama Papers libel suit vs Le Monde

Morocco detains three as Rif protests continue

Israel starts work on new settlements amid Trump 'peace' push

At least 10 dead in Mogadishu suicide attack

Iraq forces advance in Mosul Old City

Yemen cholera death toll passes 1,100

Iran-made drone shot down by US plane in Syria

Raqa’s own battle to liberate hometown from IS rule

Saudi, Iraq hail 'qualitative leap' in relations

French journalist killed in Mosul

Iran protests against Tillerson 'transition' comments

Saudi foils ‘terrorist act’ in territorial waters

Ex-Barclays CEO charged with fraud over Qatar funding

London mosque terror attack suspect named in media

Iran avenges Tehran attack by targeting jihadists in Syria

Israel begins reducing power supplies to Gaza

Emirati minister warns Qatar isolation could ‘last years’

Russia freezes US military hotline after downing of Syrian plane

Turkish troops arrive in Qatar for joint training

Saudi seizes weapons from captured boat in oil field

Iraq authorities tell IS to 'surrender or die' in Mosul

UN says record 65.6 million people displaced worldwide