The Impact of the Syrian Conflict In One Photo
By Hannah Scott
A young child, only five years old, sits silently in an ambulance. He is alone, staring at the photographers as they capture his startling appearance and blank expression.
A video shows the chaos erupting outside the ambulance. The footage shows the child was placed in the relative safety by a man in a high visibility vest before being left alone. Shouting can be heard but the confronting videos show the child just sitting waiting for something to happen.
He is not crying or speaking, just sitting.
Horrifyingly he reaches up to wipe at his eye he looks at his hand noticing it’s covered in blood and dirt. He wipes it off on the seat still probably not noticing how his entire body is covered in cuts and dust, still silent.
Rescuers continue shouting and pulling people from the rubble of a building that has just been bombed while the camera stays pointed at the young boy. He has no one with him, no family or friends to comfort him and tell him things will be okay. Things are clearly not okay.
And that is just the first 37 seconds.
The video was taken by doctors with the Syrian American Medical Society on Wednesday, shared by the Aleppo Media Center, and has since hit global headlines. The doctors told ABC that the child’s name is Omran Daqneesh.. The footage of Omran was taken in an outlying suburb of Aleppo which is held by Syrian rebels and reminds us, in the most shocking way possible, that war does not discriminate.
He’s not the only child being treated. Throughout the course of the video, other children are lifted into the ambulance before being taken to hospital. Omran was treated for a head wound and discharged from the M10 hospital. The question is where are his parents; doctors said they don’t know as he was brought into hospital by four young men. What happens to a young child in a war zone without a family.
There are one and a half million people still living in Aleppo as the conflict rages on. Last week we showed just how destructive the war has been with these before and after photographs.
Bombings and fighting in Syria is nothing new, but this type of footage is startling. This is the kind of image that can become the face of a conflict, that can shift public opinion on a massive scale, similarly to Alan Kurdî, the drowned refugee boy or Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl. Mercifully Omran is still alive, but his face cannot be unseen.