Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh has become the heartbreaking new face of the tragedies of war. Pictures and videos of the Syrian child being pulled out of rubble after an air strike in Aleppo on Wednesday, and of him sitting and staring into blank space with dazed eyes after being ‘rescued’ went viral on social media as soon as they were released.
It is as yet uncertain whether the air strikes were carried out by Assad-sympathisers or by Russian security forces. Omran was rescued along with three other children.
The image is reminiscent of the chilling picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who became the face of the Syrian refugee crisis as he lay, ironically with his face down, on a beach in Turkey.
Omran’s pictures and footage too carry a harsh reminder that the war in Syria is not over for the thousands of children and innocent civilians who continue to be slaughtered.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 14,040 children under the age of 18 have died during the Syrian Revolution. The number is increasing every day, and does not include the tens of thousands more who have been maimed, orphaned, tortured, missing and/or recruited by jihadists.
An estimated 400,000 Syrian lives have been lost in the civil war that has ravaged the country for the past five years, according to UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura. The past months have seen increased bombardment in Aleppo and surrounding areas from both the rebel and jihadist forces along with intensified counter bombing from Syrian forces.
Historically prone to sieges, right from the Byzantine era, through Mongol invasions and Timur Lang’s escapades, the ancient city is now being subjected to cluster bombs, chlorine gas attacks. Chemical warfare has been employed at least thrice in the last two weeks alone.
At least 250,000 to 275,000 civilians inhabit the rebel-held parts of the city and face constant direct threat to life. Rights activists and organisations as well as journalists have time and again documented the grievous human rights violations and use of unauthorised and unsanctioned means to reach the desired end.
What started as a largely unarmed uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in 2011, has snowballed into a civil war that has killed over 350,000 people and turned more than 4.3 million into homeless refugees.
As activists rage on over the dead eyes of 5-year old Omran, one wonders how many more of these images it would take for the world to do more than just notice.
As of now, Aleppo continues to be under siege and the thousands of Omrans continue to stare blankly into oblivion, seemingly resigned to their dusty and bloody fate.
Videos of the child went viral on social media. You can watch it here:
Feature Image Source: Twitter