Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of an ambulance after being pulled out of the rubble of his home mere seconds before. He is seemingly unaware of the blood seeping out of the wound on his head and stared blankly at his surroundings instead, unable to comprehend the horror that he has just endured.
Aleppo, Syria, was struck by tragedy on the evening of Wednesday, August 17, in the form of another airstrike. This attack is part of the ongoing Syrian Civil War that has consumed part of the Middle East. Omran is a five year old boy who was pulled from the rubble of his apartment building along with his parents and siblings. His brother, Ali, died the following Saturday in the hospital from his injuries. Ali is a part of an estimated 4,500 children who have been killed in Aleppo since the beginning of the war.
Those who were pulled from the rubble were quickly rushed to a hospital codenamed M10, in an effort to prevent targeting. Hospitals are difficult to come by in war-torn Syria and can hardly be called a shelter; they are constantly under attack, and the international laws banning strikes on hospitals have been ignored. Weeks before the attack on Aleppo, the last 15 doctors in the city wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for assistance and writing of the daily horrors these doctors are facing. They see families being torn apart, and airstrikes led by the Syrian and Russian governments destroying the lives of Syrian citizens.
Omran was treated for his injuries after arriving at M10, refusing to cry, only calling out for his parents who were brought in the second wave of the injured. When catching sight of them, the five year old broke down – unable to control the tears as the shock wore off and the confusion and horror set in.
The following day the United Nations called for a ceasefire in Aleppo, an effort to send in aid workers to help the two million people left within its borders. Over 300 people had been killed in Aleppo in the two weeks leading up to the airstrike and one in three of these deaths were woman and children,
There are thousands more children who have been affected the way Omran has, by the destruction of their homes, and many who have lost parents and siblings. This event is a harsh reminder of the horrors of war; it has no mercy. This five year old’s picture, snapped in the back of an ambulance among chaos and disorder, has touched the hearts of the world and has become a symbol of the Syrian people’s struggles.