It is a photo that encapsulates the horror of Syria’s civil war.
A five-year-old boy, plastered in dust and blood, sitting motionless and mute in the back of an ambulance. Blinking back shock – and in a gesture that will be familiar to anyone who has children - he reaches up to rub his eyes, before realising with panic that his face is covered in blood.
The boy doesn’t make a sound. His mother is nowhere to be seen. And soon he is joined by two other bleeding, dirty children, including one toddler who looks frozen with shock and terror. The video rolls on, and no one comes to comfort them and cuddle them, and you realise: it’s unlikely their parents will ever cuddle them again.
Like me, you may have skimmed the headlines about airstrikes in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, in the past few days. Maybe you noticed that several hospitals had been attacked. But perhaps you didn’t. After all, the war in Syria has been raging now for five long years, and the headlines and reports and pictures of bomb-ravaged streets and blown-out buildings are beginning to blur. Hundreds of thousands have died, including thousands of children. Millions have been displaced – forced over the border to surrounding countries like Jordan and Turkey. One in three children in Syria has never known peacetime.
The medics in the video are known as The White Helmets – they have just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. According to veteran news journalist Janine diGiovanni, The White Helmets (or Syrian Civil Defence) are "superheroes". "When they realised no one was coming to save Syria, they took it upon themselves to save their own people," she recently wrote. "Hero" is a corny word but they are truly superheroes." You can watch them in action in this video, below:
The boy in the video is five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was taken to a hospital in the city and later discharged.
He fared better than another child who was killed in that same airstrike on Tuesday. Or the babies who had to be removed from their incubators earlier this week after airstrikes attacked the hospital they were in.
This is the face of the civil war. This is the face of asylum seekers.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
UNHCR works to keep refugees safe, providing them with shelter, sleeping mats, blankets, food, medical care and access to education. You can visit UNHCR and donate.
Save the children is also assisting Syrian families with basic supplies. You can donated here.
If you want to support refugee settlement in Australia, share this story with the hashtag #BringThemHere