Photo Essay: Syrian children share their stories.

The Syrian conflict is now in its seventh year and it is children who are paying the heaviest price. No child in Syria is spared the horror of war. They can’t escape the violence, not in schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks or even their own ...

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The Syrian conflict is now in its seventh year and it is children who are paying the heaviest price.

No child in Syria is spared the horror of war. They can’t escape the violence, not in schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks or even their own homes. For Syrian children, each year of conflict has been more devastating than the last. They have lived through unimaginable horrors and many are deeply traumatised.

A drawing by Aya, 11, who was displaced with her family from Al-Yarmouk camp, which was home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in Syria before the war, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, December 2016. Aya’s father left Syria for Egypt to work and provide for the family almost five years ago and Aya hasn’t seen him since. “I drew myself seeing my father off at the airport, it’s my saddest memory. I look at a photo of him every night so I don’t forget what he looks like,” says Aya. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Photo: Aya, Syria, 2016. 

Children like Aya (11) have had to deal with great loss. Five years ago, Aya’s father left Syria to find work in Egypt, it was the only chance he had to support his family. Aya hasn’t seen her father since. “I drew myself seeing my father off at the airport, it’s my saddest memory. I look at a photo of him every night so I don’t forget what he looks like.”

A drawing by Amar, 12, who was displaced with her family in 2012 from Al-Yarmouk camp, which was home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in Syrian Arab Republic before the war, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, December 2016. After Amar’s two brothers disappeared, her father suffered a stroke, rendering him unable to move or speak. “This drawing shows my mother pushing my father on his wheelchair and me crying besides them. It makes me so sad to see my father unable to do anything on his own. I miss him talking to me,” says Amar. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Photo: Amar, Syria, 2016.

Amar (12) drew a picture of her family. Amar’s two brothers disappeared in the war, shortly after they went missing her father suffered a stroke that has left him unable to move or speak. “This drawing shows my mother pushing my father on his wheelchair and me crying beside them. It makes me so sad to see my father unable to do anything on his own. I miss him talking to me.”

A drawing by Khalil, 11, who was displaced with his family in 2012 from Al-Yarmouk camp, which was home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in Syrian Arab Republic before the war, Damascus, Syria, December 2016. “I drew an armed man shooting an innocent man because I know a lot of people who died since the beginning of the war,” says Khalil. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Photo: Khalil, Syria, 2016. 

Children like Khalil (11) are exposed to unimaginable violence. “I drew an armed man shooting an innocent man because I know a lot of people who died since the beginning of the war.”

Amal, 12, holds up a picture she drew as a tribute for the children of a kindergarten in Harasta, a besieged town in rural Damascus, which she heard was attacked, at the Bakri Kaddoura school, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, Thursday 10 November 2016. “I keep thinking of the little children, I bet they didn’t even know what was happening when their kindergarten was hit by a shell.” No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Amal holds up her drawing. Photo: Al-Issa, Syria, 2016. 

Amal (12) drew her picture as a tribute to the 30 children who died when their playschool was hit by shelling. “I keep thinking of the little children, I bet they didn’t even know what was happening when their kindergarten was hit by a shell.”

UNICEF provides special programmes to help children come to terms with what they have experienced, it might be as simple as providing a safe place where children can come and play to providing counselling and training teachers in how best to support traumatised children.

Huda, 6, draws at a UNICEF-supported child friendly space at a shelter for families displaced by the ongoing violence in eastern Aleppo city, in the Jibreen area on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Friday 9 December 2016. “I wish I have a house that has a room only for me. I wish I have my own bed and my own chair," says Huda, who arrived with her family at a shelter in Jibreen a week ago, where she has to share a blanket and a mattress with her four siblings. Huda and many other children like her are staying in a warehouse that now serves as a temporary shelter. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Huda (6) draws her picture during the UNICEF run programme. Photo: Al-Issa, Syria, 2016. 

Aya, Amar, Khalil and Amal were taking part in a UNICEF supported psychosocial programme where they were encouraged to express their feelings through art. They were asked to draw pictures of a good and bad memory and then they were encouraged to draw a picture of their hopes and dreams.

Ammar, 6, holds up a picture he drew at a UNICEF-supported child friendly space at a shelter for families displaced by the ongoing violence in east Aleppo city in the Jibreen area, on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Friday 9 December 2016. “It is a big clean space with green grass, trees and flowers,” says Ammar describing his drawing of a house with a large garden. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Ammar hold up his picture. Photo: Al-Issa, Syria, 2016. 

Ammar (6) drew a picture of his dream house with a large garden. “It is a big clean space with green grass, trees and flowers.”

Khaled, 13, who was injured during heavy fighting in eastern Aleppo, holds up a picture he drew of a big house with a swimming pool, at a shelter for families displaced by the ongoing violence in eastern Aleppo city, in the Jibreen area on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Friday 9 December 2016. “I love sport, especially swimming. I wish I learn how to swim and be a fast swimmer,” says Khaled. Living under siege, many children like Khaled spent months hiding in dark basements or in underground rooms, lacking the safety the needed to even play. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Khaled hold up his picture. Photo: Al-Issa, Syria, 2016. 

Khaled (13) was injured during heavy fighting in Eastern Aleppo. He drew a picture of a big house with a swimming pool. “I love sport, especially swimming. I wish I learn how to swim and be a fast swimmer.”

Fatima, 5, holds up a picture she drew at a UNICEF-supported child friendly space at a shelter for families displaced by the ongoing violence in east Aleppo city in the Jibreen area, on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Friday 9 December 2016. “I want to live in a big house that has room for all my family and friends.” says Fatima. No child is spared the horror of the war in the Syrian Arab Republic, where children come under attack on a daily basis. Violence is everywhere, ripping apart places that children thought were safe - places that should be safe: schools, hospitals, playgrounds, public parks and children’s own homes. Children have paid the heaviest price in this six-year war and their suffering hit rock bottom in 2016 in a drastic escalation of violence, according to a UNICEF report published in March 2017. UNICEF-supported psychosocial support programmes reached 509,857 children in 2016. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities – including drawing. It is through these drawings that the children depict their experiences, as well as their wishes and hopes for a better future.Fatima proudly displays her drawing. Photo, Al-Issa, Syria, 2016. 

Fatima (5) was forced to flee her home as violence escalated in Eastern Aleppo. Her hope was “live in a big house that has room for all my family and friends.”

Last year UNICEF provided psychosocial support programmes to 509,857 children in Syria. Please donate today and help support UNICEF’s work with Syrian children.