Even as the area around the genebank fell under the control of two competing armed groups and the remaining staff reckoned with several kidnappings, they managed to backup 80 percent of the center’s collection in Svalbard. The last shipment arrived at Svalbard in March 2014—nearly two years after Amri and much of the rest of the international staff had relocated to Rabat, Morocco. Last month, the Centerwon the Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize—coveted among plant breeders—for its rescue and preservation of the genebank. And amazingly, the Aleppo site continues to be operational. The Syrian staff has managed to keep the electricity on and the genebank intact through four years of war.
Wars never end. Neither does the human drive to persevere. This is how we get better.