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Haunting images of kids bring home the horror of conflict

22 August 20160 comments

A photograph of a boy sitting dazed and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after surviving a regime airstrike in Aleppo has highlighted the desperation of the Syrian civil war and the struggle for control of the city.

The image of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was injured last week in a military strike on the rebel-held Qaterji neighbourhood, is the latest in a series of compelling yet heart-breaking photographs of children that have encapsulate the human tragedy and horrific toll of Syria’s civil war.

Aleppo-based journalist Mustafa al-Sarout filmed Omran after he emerged from the rubble of his home.

Aleppo imageThe startling image shows him covered head to toe with dust and so disoriented that he seems barely aware of an open wound on his forehead. He was taken to a hospital known as M10 and later discharged.

The image was just the latest picture of another child caught up in one the world’s conflicts.

In September last year the body of three-year-old Akan Kurdi, a Syrian boy of Kurdish origins, was washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Alan and his family fled the war engulfing their country, hoping to join relatives in the safety of Canada. They were part of a historic flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe this year, and they followed the dangerous route taken by so many others.

In the early hours of September 2, the family crowded onto a small inflatable boat on the beach of Bodrum, Turkey.

A few minutes into the journey to Greece, the dinghy capsized. Alan, his older brother Ghalib and his mother Rihanna all drowned, joining the more than 3,600 other refugees who died in the eastern Mediterranean this year.

Kurdi imageWhen Turkish photographer Nilüfer Demir came upon the beach, she found what she described as “children’s graveyard.”

She took photos of Alan’s lifeless body which had washed up along the shore, half in the sand and half in the water his sneakers still on his feet.

Now these two haunting images have featured in an arresting cartoon that has gone viral on social media.

The illustration by Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih is titled “choices for Syrian children”, was shared on Facebook last week.
Aleppo image 3It shows Omran Daqneesh and Alan Kurdi. A drawing of Omran is above the words “if you stay”, while an image of Alan is next to the words “if you leave.

Albaih, who goes by the name Khartoon, currently lives in Doha, Qatar, and often draws illustrations highlighting human rights issues.

“My inspiration came from the fact that I consider myself as a refugee,” he told BuzzFeed News, “as well as the fact that my children are within the same age and could also be in the same situation.”

“I wanted to draw it because I felt like it’s the same image, and the same situation, over and over again, with Alan first, and then the child who was decapitated, and now Omran.

“All I hope my image does is bring attention to the situation of war victims everywhere,” he said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist