Millions of children traumatised by Syria war


Haggard and covered in blood, little Omran’s blank stare shook the world. But across war-torn Syria, thousands of children like him are traumatised by daily life under bombs and siege. The footage of the shell-shocked four-year-old made headlines around the world and was dubbed by Washington “the real face” of Syria’s five-year war. “Omran’s case isn’t rare — we treat dozens of cases like him every day, with wounds that are typically worse,” Dr Abu al-Baraa, a paediatrician in a rebel-held eastern neighbourhood of Aleppo, told AFP.
Despite the international outcry, Dr Abu al-Baraa said nothing would change.
Omran’s haunting photo has sparked a series of caricatures and edited images.
In one, Omran sits unassumingly between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, deep in discussion. Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih drew Omran near Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old whose tiny body washed up on a Turkish beach in September after a desperate attempt by his family to reach Europe by boat.
Of the estimated 250,000 people still living in the eastern parts of Aleppo, 100,000 are children, said Juliette Touma from the UN children agency (UNICEF).
More than 290,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict broke out, including nearly 15,000 children.
At least 2.8 million Syrian children — some in their home country, others living as refugees in neighbouring countries — are without school.
Across Syria at least six million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, Touma said, adding that children make up half of the 600,000 people living under siege in the country. According to UNICEF, a third of Syrian children have only known war, born after the conflict erupted in March 2011 and forced to grow “up too fast and way ahead of their time”.