Omran Daqneesh, five years old. This little boy has become the face of the tragedy in Aleppo. He was the first face we saw in light of the bombings in Aleppo. A little boy who miraculously survived a regime strike. He was pulled from the rubble, dazed and confused, barely aware of his surroundings. He is the face people began to associate with the bombings and destruction in Aleppo. Omran is the person who made the situation a heartbreaking reality, one that we can no longer ignore. But Omran isn’t the only little boy who is suffering. There are dozens of children who are homeless, hungry, and tired. Orphans who are scared, terrified they will never see their parents again. Unfortunately, many of them will not. Their parents were killed or forced to flee without them. Aleppo has become the site of a continuing massacre of its own people. Once the largest city in Syria, and once classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the history and artifacts it possesses, it is now a site of destruction and chaos.
Only recently has the violence escalated in Aleppo, causing it to become front page news all over social media. For some reason, it hasn’t made national headlines, nor has it been given the importance and attention that it deserves. The unrest and destruction in Aleppo started in July 2012. Rebels launched an offensive to remove government officials from office and take control over northern Syria. What happened instead was a nation divided in half, two sides at war with each other. Government officials controlled the western half, and Syrian rebels controlled the eastern half. It is a war between the Shiites and the Sunis, two groups that have been at war with each other since time began. Over the last four years, the violence has doubled and the city is no longer recognizable.
In war, there is suffering. Everyone suffers. But in this war, it is the children who are suffering. Why? According to BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Syria’s population median is 24.1, meaning that approximately 40% of the Syrian population are children under the age of 24. When the bombs are dropped, there are no specific targets in mind; however, Syrian rebels are targeting highly populated locations such as schools and hospitals. Therefore, because of the population and the number of children living in Syria, they are the ones who are suffering. They are the victims of this war. Roughly eight million children still remain in Aleppo because of restrictions put in place by rebel forces which prohibit anyone from leaving unless they are given permission. Half of the five million refugees who have fled or been allowed to leave Aleppo are children. Videos have been surfacing this past week of children and adults who are reaching out to those of us in other countries, other nations who are watching as the horror unfolds. These videos are live accounts of what is actually happening in Aleppo as it happens, with some of those individuals declaring these videos their ‘last’ moments.
On December 15th, both sides agreed to a temporary cease fire. The remaining individuals in Aleppo would be allowed to leave and reunite with their families and loved ones who were able to escape. Unfortunately, the ceasefire didn’t last long and Syrian rebels once again began their siege of the city. As many as 100,000 people have been displaced and need our help. Harper’s Bazaar lists 11 ways that you can get involved and help the people and children of Aleppo:
- Doctor’s Without Borders
- The White Helmets
- Oxfam International
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- Islamic Relief USA
- Planet Syria
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- The International Rescue Committee
- Hand in Hand for Syria
- Save the Children
Featured Image: PBS
What are your thoughts on the situation in Aleppo? Let us know in the comments!