"Today we have hope in God only": Homs escapee

"Today we have hope in God only": Homs escapee

BUCHAREST - Agence France-Presse
Today we have hope in God only: Homs escapee

In this Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and accessed on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, anti-Syrian regime activist Khaled Abu-Salah stands in front of flames and black smoke from a bombed oil pipeline, in Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, central Syria. AP photo

"Today, we have hope in God only because the international community is reacting so slowly", a Romanian woman who managed to flee the Syrian flashpoint city of Homs told AFP in Bucharest on Thursday.

"In Homs, it's a war like we have never seen before. Tanks are stationed in every street", she said, refusing to give her name out of "fear for my family who remain there".

She has been living for years in Syria with her husband.

"We stayed in our house for weeks, we could not go out. When I went out to try to flee to the Romanian embassy the city was being shelled", she added.

The woman was one of six Romanians, mostly women, who arrived Thursday in Bucharest with the help of the Romanian foreign ministry.

Thousands of Romanians, most of them married to Syrian nationals, are currently living in Syria, according to official estimates.

Some of them, like Mihaela Sahlol, a beauty specialist married to a Syrian for 18 years, escaped "with great difficulty" from Homs, which according to rights activists has been under a relentless government assault that has killed nearly 400 people since February 4.

"It was very, very difficult to leave. We tried to go through four, five different ways but we couldn't get through. Finally, we managed to drive to the embassy in Damascus with another Romanian-Syrian couple", Sahlol said.

After being helped by the Romanian diplomats in the Syrian capital, she reached Bucharest with her two children.

"We had no life in Homs. The city is isolated. Schools are closed, there is no electricity, no water, nothing that you can find in a normal country", she said.

"Every day it became more and more difficult. It is becoming a real civil war", she added, hoping "that things will calm down, that we will be able to go back to normal life".

"How can you feel as a woman who is leaving behind a husband, a home?", Sahlol added.

Romania has decided to leave its embassy in Syria open but asked its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.