The Syrian war took on a new face this week when the image of a young boy covered in soot, rubble, and blood made news everywhere. Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh was pulled from the scene of a bombing in the Syrian city of Aleppo. CNN now reports that Omran’s 10-year-old brother succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the attack.
The Aleppo Media Center confirmed that Ali Daqneesh died on Saturday in an Aleppo field hospital. The attack injuring Ali happened on Wednesday, and the boy had remained in critical condition since. The children’s mother is also in the hospital in critical condition.
A dazed and bloodied boy in an ambulance has become the symbol of the war in Syria. https://t.co/7iMbLM7uGk
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 19, 2016
The image of Omran struck a cord with the world because of his calm demeanor after being pulled from unimaginable chaos. Much like the image of the toddler who drowned while trying to reach Greece with his family, the picture puts a human face on the tragedy taking place there.
In September 2015, a Turkish soldier was photographed carrying the lifeless body of a tiny toddler who had washed up on the shores of Turkey. The image quickly went viral, and it was later revealed that the boy was 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi. His 5-year-old brother also drowned.
Perhaps it is because seeing children hurt evokes more emotion than when we see the scores of injured and dead adults, but these images bring the Syrian war back into the minds of the general public. With the rhetoric around immigration happening right now around the world, the true suffering of the Syrians caught in the middle is lost.
SaveTheChildren.org reports that there are approximately 7.5 million children that have been affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria. According to their findings, around 100 Syrian’s leave the country every single hour on average, looking for safety, a home that will not be bombed, and food.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 21, 2016
Taking politics out of it, the choices that Syrian families must make are heartbreaking. If you stay, you face constant bombing, a shortage of food and supplies, overrun hospitals, and constant uncertainty. If you leave, you face smugglers looking to make a profit from your hopeless situation and many times you face death.
In the case of Aylan Kurdi, two smugglers went on trial for causing the 3-year-old boy’s death. Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad, both Syrian nationals, went on trial in Bodrum, Turkey and faced up to 35 years in jail for human smuggling and causing the death of Kurdi and four other’s through “deliberate negligence.”
According to The Independent, the men were convicted and were only sentenced to four years in prison for the toddler’s death. They were convicted on the lesser charges of human trafficking but found not guilty on the charge of causing deaths through deliberate negligence. Kurdi’s father was also tried in absentia as the only living member of his family.
— YoungAustIntAff (@YoungAustIntAff) August 11, 2016
Half of Syria’s pre-war population – approximately 11 million people – have either been killed in the conflict or fled the country according to Mercy Corps.
The crisis in Syria began in 2011 during the Arab spring but the government crackdown caused an uprising among the rebels and citizens. During the conflict ISIS found a spot to move in, creating even more chaos and leaving millions of civilians caught in the middle of the fighting groups.
The sad reality is that the unrest in Syria doesn’t appear to be nearing its end and many more heartbreaking pictures of children and displaced people will probably go viral before disappearing from our thoughts. Until the next one pops up and breaks our hearts all over again.
[Photo by Aleppo Media Center/AP Images]