‘Striking that everyone talks about these children, except for the people in Syria’
Aylan was the first Syrian child to shock the world. He was the boy who washed up on the Turkish beach and that symbol stood for thousands of children who drowned during their get-away to Europe. Now there is Samar, a baby that is emaciated in the hands of a nurse. The Dutch newspapers state that they are suffering from hunger, but they could also be the victims of the chemical weapons used in the area where they were born. She too symbolizes thousands of children. It is striking that everyone talks about these children, except for the people in Syria. There was nothing to see about Aylan on Syrian television. I think, out of embarrassment. In the case of Samar, the government says: This is a propaganda message. If the government broadcasts reports of abuses, the opponents say so too. Nothing changes like that. Nobody says: Now it’s done. Nobody wants to change his opinion and that is how people keep going. Even when the war is over, I think the suffering continues for many people in Syria. When I lived in Syria, I went to a village for UNICEF to give people food. In that village, thousands of Kurds who were born in Syria lived, but had no identity card. They could not go to school and could not work. The father of the current president was then in power and said that these people were not Syrians, but came from Iraq. No papers. That could just be the fate of the children like Samar. They live in areas that are occupied by groups that are against the government and their parents can not outsource the villages to report the birth of their child. They are undocumented children who will not be able to go to school and have no work. There are a few organizations that use lawyers to arrange the paperwork for these people, but that is far too little. It does not matter to Samar. She died 35 days after her birth. The number of people who die is no longer shocking me. Hundred deaths in Aleppo have become normal words. A picture of a child like Samar never gets used to. It keeps touching me. She is a baby who did nothing wrong, but happened to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time.