Middle East

Syria war: Child's eye drawings of death and displacement

"Maybe if we die we'll be able to play" - it's a sentiment echoed by many children caught up in the war in Syria, says Dr Mohammad Khalid Hamza.

His team of doctors and psychologists from the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams) have been working with children affected by the seven-year conflict. They and other humanitarian organisations have been collecting drawings made by the children.

This collection, drawn by children up to 14 years of age, shows how they see the war. We have withheld the names of some of the authors to protect their identity.

Drawing by a Syrian child refugee depicting an eye with tear drops captioned "Beautiful Syria" Image copyright Save the Children
Image caption The words on the tear drops say: "Beautiful Syria"
Drawing by Syrian child refugee showing an warplane, an ambulance, and missiles heading towards two people holding an injured child Image copyright SAMS
Image caption The labels on this drawing say: "Assad's air force", "Red Crescent ambulance", "the children of Khan Sheikhoun" and "children's blood". UN experts believe the government was behind a chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed dozens of people, including children
Drawing by Syrian child refugee depicting an apparent air strike with missiles hitting a building, an injured person lying on the ground, an airplane flying over a mosque and soldiers shooting from a machine gun and loading mortars Image copyright SAMS
Image caption This picture appears to mock the Syrian army. Citing its slogan, the text above the soldier firing a machine-gun says: "This is our army of resistance. Homeland, honour and loyalty." The bullets, and mortars fired by another soldier, are depicting hitting the Syrian town of Rastan, but the text above it says: "This is Israel."
Drawing by a Syrian child refugee that appears to depict an adult standing over a dead body Image copyright Save the Children
Image caption "This is Syria." Dr Hamza, neuropsychologist with the Syrian American Medical Society, says the children he has met have lost all hope
Drawing by Syrian child refugee showing a boat at sea with a group of people on board and several others in the water nearby Image copyright SAMS
Image caption More than half of Syria's population has been displaced by the war, with at least 5.6 million fleeing abroad. Despite the many dangers of trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in inadequate vessels run by people smugglers, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Europe
Drawing by Syrian child refugee depicting what appears to be a prison with sad people behind bars Image copyright SAMS
Image caption "My homeland." More than 118,000 Syrians have been detained or disappeared since 2011, the vast majority by government forces, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a monitoring group
Drawing by Syrian child refugee showing a bird singing, then the same bird in a cage, then an empty cage. Image copyright SAMS
Image caption The top line reads (from right to left): "Siblings: Safa, Zahra, Fatima, Osama, Joud." The bottom line (from left to right) says: "My father in 2010", "My father in 2011", "My father in 2014"
Drawing by Syrian child refugee showing a girl and a boy crying Image copyright UNICEF
Image caption Myassar, 14: "I drew myself and my sister crying when my father left us almost two years ago. We don't know anything about him. This is my saddest memory."
Drawing by Syrian child refugee appears to show a before-and-after comparison of a square in the Syrian city of Homs Image copyright SAMS/AFP
Image caption This drawing appears to depict the clock tower in a central square in Homs. Syria's third largest city was once dubbed the "capital of the revolution" against President Bashar al-Assad. It was devastated by three years of fierce fighting between government and rebel forces
Drawing by Syrian child refugee showing several people lying in pools of blood with a girl overlooking the scene and looking worried. The caption says: "And their night will then begin to fade." Image copyright SAMS
Image caption "And their night will then begin to fade"

This drawing quotes the start of a poem by the famous Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi, The Will for Life. It is widely taught in schools throughout the Arabic-speaking world and became one of the rallying cries of the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the region.

The first verse reads:

If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.

And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains - break and fall.

(Poem translated by Elliott Colla)

Images provided by The Syrian American Medical Society, Save the Children and Unicef

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