A Syrian boy’s photo goes viral, becoming a symbol for Syrian suffering

by Caroline Chidester, ’17


Recently, a photo of a young Syrian boy sitting stunned in the back of an ambulance has been circulating around the Internet. The boy is 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, and the same blast that injured him killed his older brother Ali.

The picture depicts the boy with a swollen face, covered in blood and dirt, and has been all over the news. The photo, along with the viral video shot at the same time, was taken in the Qaterji neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria after a government airstrike.

Within 48 hours, the video had been viewed more than 3.5 million times and the photo had been shared around the world. Most agree that the boy’s seemingly dazed and calm demeanor contrasts powerfully with the shock of his wounds.

Mustafa al-Sarout, an Aleppo-based journalist, filmed the video of Omran.

“I’ve seen so many children rescued out of the rubble, but this child, with his innocence, he had no clue what was going on,” al-Sarout said to The Guardian. “He put his hand on his face and saw blood. He didn’t know even what happened to him.”

The fact that this boy could be a child anywhere in the world brings the issue closer to home for parents in a way that few other reports of the Syrian conflict have. The boy in the photo has since been embraced as a symbol for all Syrian suffering.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told National Public Radio that it has documented the deaths of 100 children in war-torn Aleppo city since July 31.

For those interested in getting involved, multiple organizations are aiding people affected by the conflict. A few of these include the SAMS Foundation, the White Helmets and Doctors Without Borders.