HUFFINGTON POST

Photos Show The Grim Reality Of A Childhood Under Siege In Syria

In Syria's besieged areas, 250,000 children are waiting for their turn to die.
A child sits on a car destroyed by an explosion in Ghouta, Syria.
A child sits on a car destroyed by an explosion in Ghouta, Syria.

More than five years into the war in Syria 250,000 children live amid shelling, airstrikes and barrel bombs. International charity organization Save The Children reveals what it means for children to live amid war in Syrian towns and cities in Childhood Under Siege, a report released this month.  

Children are not only witnesses to the conflict, but also the main victims of its horror: They suffer from continuous lack of food, medicine and drinking water.

The report also describes the emotional toll the war is taking. 

“Fear has taken control. Children now wait for their turn to be killed. Even adults live only to wait for their turn to die,” Rihab, a mother in Eastern Ghouta, told Save The Children. 

The organization interviewed over 125 mothers, fathers and children who live or have lived under siege.

Explore some of their stories through the photos below, via Saved The Children. 

  • In this photo are Hassan and Razan, with their children Rami, Taraq, Firas and Yana, in the Lebanese refugee camp where they
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    In this photo are Hassan and Razan, with their children Rami, Taraq, Firas and Yana, in the Lebanese refugee camp where they now live.

    Life in the camp is difficult and sometimes the family doesn't have food to eat. "They said: 'Dad, this is grass!' and I tried to convince them that I had bought it for them to eat," says Hassan, who, after several months of being under siege in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, managed to escape with his wife and four children to Lebanon. It was a two-month long journey filled with hardships.

  • “It was a dream to get here. This is paradise compared to what we have seen,” says Raza, Hassan’s wife.&nbs
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    “It was a dream to get here. This is paradise compared to what we have seen,” says Raza, Hassan’s wife. 
  • Rami is only 10 years old, but he has already seen things that, in his mother's words, he "should never be seen."<br><br>"In
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    Rami is only 10 years old, but he has already seen things that, in his mother's words, he "should never be seen."

    "In Deir ez-Zor, there were bombings and people were dying. Planes attacked everyone. My brothers and I did not move. We were scared of being killed by the bombings, but I told my brothers to calm down. In Deir ez-Zo, we were eating grass," Rami says,
  • Mariam, 14, lives in a settlement in Lebanon with her brothers. Her family fled a rural area in Homs, Syria, after the siege
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    Mariam, 14, lives in a settlement in Lebanon with her brothers. Her family fled a rural area in Homs, Syria, after the siege worsened and the bombing intensified. Her mother fled with four of her children, but had to return to Syria to retrieve Mariam's other siblings. When she got there, however, she found that the siege had intensified and she couldn't leave the country.

    For Mariam, the worst part about living in Syria was the bombings, she says. As soon as she heard them, she would run to take refuge with her family. One time, a bomb fell two meters away from her four-year-old sister. "She couldn’t speak all day," Mariam said.

    In Lebanon, she feels safer, but being separated from her mother has been difficult, she says. "I’m sure she’s worried about us. I hope she is doing well and that she may come. I am only 14 years old. At first I didn't even know how to cook, I had no idea how to do things."

    Now, Mariam is the one in charge of bathing her siblings, cooking for them and teaching them how to read, even though she feels she should be going to school.
  • Children walk through the corridors of a destroyed school in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    Children walk through the corridors of a destroyed school in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
  • One of the chapters in Save the Children's report is titled "Lost Education." It concludes that in the span of a just few yea
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    One of the chapters in Save the Children's report is titled "Lost Education." It concludes that in the span of a just few years, "decades of educational progress have been nullified."

    Schools are under a sustained attack. In four years, there have been thousands of attacks, ranging "from bombing and artillery fire” to “armed groups taking schools to turn them into military bases, detention centers or torture chambers," according to the report.

    In a desperate attempt to protect children from bombs, schools have been set up underground in some parts of Syria.
  • "Many children have been forced to leave school," says Layth, who lives in a fenced area in Ghouta. Those who have lost their
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    "Many children have been forced to leave school," says Layth, who lives in a fenced area in Ghouta. Those who have lost their parents and those who aren't being taken care of by adults are living on the streets, "selling cookies, cigarettes or anything.”
  • "We were told that the Army had left our area, so we decided to go back to collect our things," says Sawsan, who arrived in L
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    "We were told that the Army had left our area, so we decided to go back to collect our things," says Sawsan, who arrived in Lebanon two years ago after fleeing Ghouta, in Damascus. "When we arrived, there was a sniper on the road, who shot my older brother. I was right next to him. He said 'Do not worry, do not worry.' He died on the road. My sister stayed behind. My father wasn't able to go back for my sister. The people that started the siege wouldn't let him."
  • Children sit near a well in a besieged area in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
    SAVE THE CHILDREN
    Children sit near a well in a besieged area in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

Names have been changed to ensure the participants safety.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Spain. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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