The feeding of the one thousand: Idlib sanctuary offers cats a refuge from war

Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Posted at Apr 01 2021 12:54 PM

A worker plays with cats at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

A worker plays with cats at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Alaa, an ambulance driver, feeds cats in Masaken Hanano in Aleppo, Syria Sept. 24, 2014.Hosam Katan, Reuters/File

A cat sips water at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, feeds the cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters

Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021.Khalil Ashawi, Reuters


IDLIB, Syria - When Syria's war forced Alaa al-Jaleel to close his cat sanctuary in Aleppo in 2015 and head north to the rebel stronghold of Idlib, he took around 100 animals with him and reopened it there.

Now his successors at Ernesto's Sanctuary care for more than 1,000 - and feeding time tends to be loud and chaotic.

"Most of the animals are injured because of the war and because their owners had to leave them when they left their homes. We gave (the cats) shelter, medical care and food," its current manager, Mohamad Wattar, said.

Named after a favorite cat of the Italian women who helped to set it up before it relocated, the expanded and fenced-off sanctuary covers 2,000 square meters of the city, located close to the Turkish border and still held by opposition forces.

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